Passover hero Yohanan Kupperman has spoken of the moment he helped pull an elderly man from a burning car, just seconds before it exploded outside his synagogue in Tottenham.
The Orthodox 30-year-old leapt into action after being alerted to the unfolding drama by screams as he studied at Yeshiva Ahavat Torah on Craven Park Road on Sunday afternoon.
Without hesitation, he ran to the burning vehicle and helped free an elderly man trapped in a front seat as another shul-goer called the fire brigade. A child and two other passengers in the car had been freed moments earlier.
“I was just thinking I had to get him out,” Kupperman – who has been labelled a “national hero” by local MP David Lammy – told the Jewish News.
“I did what I had to. He was the last person out and minutes after the car exploded.”
His wife added: “I’m very proud because I know Yohanan likes to help people. People are saying that he’s a hero.”
And he wasn’t the only shul-goer displaying outstanding bravery. Shlomi Zeivald, a former member of the parachute division of the Israeli army, who was visiting London for Pesach, also leapt into action after spotting a child’s car seat, unaware at the time that the youngster was already out.
He managed to pull the family’s belongings out of the vehicle before it exploded and, drawing on his IDF training, ensured the doors were closed in order that the fire damage would be as confined as possible.
“I had to cover my face with my clothes to avoid choking on the fumes,” he said. “The first thing is to be a mensch and I really wanted to help a fellow human being.
The shaken man and three other members of his family – none of whom suffered injuries – were then taken into the synagogue where they were given a drink and comforted by congregants.
Moshe Davis, head of the yeshiva, said: “The translation of our name is “love of Torah” and anyone who loves Torah loves humanity. It was a privilege to have been able to help.”
Local MP David Lammy said the actions of those at the scene made them “national heroes. Without them, from what is being said in Tottenham, a senior citizen could have lost his life. They showed courage that is a tribute to the whole community. I’m so proud of what they did”.
Senior community leader Rabbi Avraham said: “Pinter Yohanan Kuperman and his friend are real heros who by risking their own lives averted what could have been a major tragedy. This is not the first time where members of Tottenham Charedi community have shown that they are prepared to risk their own lives to save others.”
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.