A “sickening” video showing giant blue and white Stars of David being set alight by ultra-Orthodox Jews during Lag Ba’Omer celebrations in Stamford Hill has provoked widespread anger and revulsion among fellow Charedim.
A clip posted on YouTube on Tuesday shows a large white star burning below a blue one suspended several feet in the air as scores of onlookers swayed to celebratory music.
Adults are seen ensuring young children are kept well away from the flames during what appears to be a highly-organised event.
Senior Stamford Hill community leader Rabbi Avraham Pinter said: “The lighting of a bonfire is a long-standing tradition on Lag Ba’Omer. Its origins are in bringing light to the world and all its reasons are spiritual.
“To use it for any other reason, particularly a political one, is wrong and an aberration. It’s probably just a few hotheads behind this.”
Although elements of the strictly-Orthodox Jewish world opposes the creation of Israel without the arrival of the Messiah, the use of a symbol typically used to represent Judaism itself made this particularly shocking.
It’s believed that the video was taken last weekend at an address on Cazenove Road which is thought to sometimes play host to Yeshivas Toras Chesed, based in Hitchin.
Contacted by the Jewish News, however, a man who refused to be identified insisted the shocking scenes had “nothing to do” with the yeshiva. He suggested the site was not owned by the yeshiva and that the garden may have been used by others.
A Stamford Hill community source said they was “sickened” when viewing the clip. “The vast majority of our community would be shocked by this. You would expect the people in a scene like this to be from Hamas rather than Jews.
“These naive people obviously have no idea of the symbolism of what they have done, probably in pure frivolity, which has no justification at all.”
The title of the video on YouTube suggested the film featured members of the Satmar group, but it’s unclear whether this is the case. The source added: “Satmar does not support the secular state of Israel, but this would be totally alien to them. The rabbi of Satmar would never condone this.”
The scene also drew a strong reaction from Israel advocates.
“We condemn the desecration of all national and religious symbols. These acts are always offensive, no matter the intention,” said the Zionist Federation’s Alan Aziz.
Watch the video here: