(CTN NEWS) – Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has conveyed his hopes for Israel to achieve lasting peace.
Speaking at an event centered on hostages in Gaza, he emphasized that the militant organization Hamas should not be allowed to persist.
This statement coincided with various events throughout London related to the Israel-Gaza conflict, including an interfaith tree planting ceremony.
Additionally, a touching tribute was organized with toys laid out for Palestinian children who tragically lost their lives in the war.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis shared his remarks during the launch event for an art installation titled “The Empty Shabbat Table” in Hampstead.
This installation, organized by the JW3 Jewish Community Centre London, serves as a poignant reminder of the hostages in Gaza.
It features a Shabbat table adorned with posters of missing individuals on chairs, symbolizing dozens of empty place settings.
The installation seeks to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about the situation of hostages in Gaza and the broader Israel-Gaza conflict.
During the event, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was questioned about London Mayor Sadiq Khan‘s appeal for a ceasefire.
Mr. Khan issued a statement in which he called for a ceasefire to allow the international community more time to prevent further loss of life in the region.
Rabbi Ephraim did not explicitly state whether he agreed with the call for a ceasefire but stressed the importance of recognizing the scale of the attacks on innocent Israelis.
He emphasized the significance of Israel’s efforts to secure peace, not only in the present but also for the future.
The rabbi expressed deep sorrow over the suffering of any innocent individual and characterized the death of any innocent person as a tragedy.
He urged Israel to take all necessary measures to ensure the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Furthermore, Rabbi Ephraim underscored his belief that Hamas should not be allowed to persist, as its presence poses an existential threat to Israel and a broader threat to Jewish communities worldwide.
‘Army Against Civilians’
Charlie Balcombe, one of the organizers of the art installation, expressed her hope that the exhibit would humanize and provide a visual representation of the individuals held hostage.
She pointed out the emotional impact of seeing the smiling faces of these people, often pictured with their families.
Balcombe emphasized that the conflict wasn’t a conventional army-to-army confrontation but rather a situation where military forces were acting against civilians, making it especially challenging to comprehend.
Meanwhile, outside the Foreign Office in central London, a Parents for Palestine protest drew hundreds of participants.
Stuffed toys symbolizing Palestinian children who lost their lives during the conflict were arranged on the ground and attached to gates.
Protesters chanted slogans such as “let Gaza live” and “stop arming Israel,” while placards carried messages penned by children.
‘Show Some Solidarity’
One attendee at the protest expressed her deep distress over watching the news during the past two weeks, particularly the heart-wrenching scenes of families mourning young children.
She emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and ending arms supplies to the region, asserting the importance of continuing the fight for these goals.
Another participant, Faika from Chigwell, Essex, shared her empathy as a mother, explaining that she couldn’t imagine the constant sound of explosions while having a seven-month-old baby.
She attended the event to show solidarity and engage in a peaceful demonstration.
In Dulwich, South-East London, individuals from various faiths, including Muslims and Jews, came together to plant 15 trees.
The event was organized by the Strengthening Faith Institutions charity consortium.
This act of tree planting aimed to establish a common purpose and a shared asset, emphasizing unity and cooperation during a time of heightened tension.
Rabbi Natan Levy and Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London, both attended the event.
Mr. Field noted the significance of bringing people together in times of increased tension and preventing the escalation of hatred on the fringes of communities.
Rabbi Levy stressed the importance of people of faith working together and standing against hatred.
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