Britain’s Jewish community is shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, says Chief Rabbi

Britain’s Jewish community shares the pain of the people of Israel and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the wake of hundreds of killings by Hamas, the Chief Rabbi has said.

Sir Ephraim Mirvis told of “heinous crimes” which had taken place in recent days, as he addressed those gathered at Finchley United Synagogue in north London.

Among the packed congregation was Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who Sir Ephraim praised for having “turned your diary upside down in order to be here” on Monday night and being a “great and wonderful friend” of Israel and the Jewish people.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis (left) thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for attending the prayer service at a synagogue in north London (Lucy North/PA)
Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for attending the prayer service at a synagogue in north London (Lucy North/PA)

Mr Young, 20, was a Briton serving in the Israeli Defence Services who died at the Gaza border on Saturday.

Mr Marlowe, a 26 year-old Briton, was providing security at a party in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im when the area was attacked by Hamas and is missing.

Sir Ephraim said few had been left untouched by the events that had unfolded and pledged solidarity with Israelis.

He said: “We have brethren in Israel – parents, siblings, children, nieces, nephews, we have friends there.

“Israel is the very heart of not just the Jewish people, but the Jewish faith and we send out a strong message to our brethren and our friends in Israel this evening. You are not alone. We share your pain. We are crying with you. We share your anguish.

“We share your fate and your destiny and we will always stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in your time of stress. It has been so encouraging and so heartwarming for us to have received so many messages of support and solidarity.”

Of the PM’s attendance at the short-notice event, the Chief Rabbi said: “No words can adequately encapsulate our feelings of being so grateful to you for being with us right now.

“We know you and your Government, and with some exceptions – yes, there are some exceptions – but you and your Government and the British people are solidly behind that which is right and fourscore against that which is wrong.”

“And Prime Minister, you are a great and wonderful friend of our Jewish community and of the State of Israel.”

He also thanked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “for his statements of support and solidarity for our community, for Israel”.

Addressing the congregation, Mr Sunak pledged his support for Israel, saying: “There are not two sides to these events. There is no question of balance. I stand with Israel.

“We stand with Israel, the United Kingdom stands with Israel against this terrorism today, tomorrow and always.”

Sir Ephraim said every civilian in Israel “is on the front line of this war”, and said while Israel “is aiming to kill murderers”, Hamas is “aiming to kill innocent men, women and children”.

He argued that Israel “has a responsibility to defend herself”, with the “prime responsibility to make the country secure”.

He said: “When innocent Palestinian civilians die or are killed, that was not the intention and of course our hearts go out to all those who suffer the loss of innocence. Israel must continue to do whatever it can for the sake of her citizens.”

Near the beginning of the service, Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely lit a candle in memory of those who had been killed.

An organiser said as many as 3,000 are believed to have attended the service, with thousands more tuning in online.

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