West London Synagogue (WLS) hosted some 300 people – including Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev – as they marked World AIDS Day on Saturday 1 December with a moving Havdalah and remembrance service led by Rabbi David Mitchell. The event was in aid of JAT (Jewish AIDS Trust) and Israel AIDS Task Force.
The service was followed by ‘Beacons’ a concert by the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
During the concert, Ambassador Regev and Chen Shmilo (new Director of the Israel AIDS Task Force) lit all 8 candles on the giant menorah, afterwards spreading the light to individual candles held by audience members, reflecting the hill top beacons connecting communities in ancient Israel.
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) December 1, 2018
Maya Levy sang Freddie Mercury’s ballad ‘Love of My Life’, as the conregagation watched dozens of images of ‘beacons’ from the history of HIV AIDS, such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, and of the work being done to support communities in Africa, Brazil, India, and Russia. One particularly poignant image was of Saar Maoz, formerly a Chorus member and now Deputy Director of IATF.
In another part of building at the same time, WLS were hosting dozens of guests in their Winter Night Shelter, giving protection to these vulnerable people without homes from the harsh winter weather, offering them a hot meal and comfortable bed and a willing listener for the night.