Rabbis and Jewish community representatives joined leaders of other faith groups on Wednesday to pay their respects to the victims of the Westminster Bridge attack a week ago.f
Among the Jewish organisations standing “against all forms of extremism and hate” were the Union of Jewish Students and the Board of Deputies, with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis having attended a vigil on Friday.
Rabbi Natan Levy, of the Faiths Forum for London, said the bridge was symbolic as “terrorism tries to put barriers up between communities, between faiths, and people are walking on Westminster Bridge and saying ‘we are stronger and are coming together and are not going to be divided in this way’.
“It makes one heck of a difference the fact that we as Muslims and Jews, rabbis, imams, people of all faiths, people of none, are willing to walk together, to be together, to hold hands together and that makes each of us feel safe.”
The rabbi said the message they were sending was that “despite our differences around politics, perhaps, and around how we see geopolitical events, that when it comes down to some basic human values, we together are saying no to violence, we are saying it’s not in our name and not in God’s name”.
A spokesperson for the Union of Jewish Students, who were represented at the event, said they “were shocked and heartbroken at last week’s terrorist attack in London”, and that they wanted to “add the voices of UJS and of Jewish students to the resounding rejection of that division that arose in response.”
They also said it was a chance to “show our gratitude to the policemen and women who keep the Jewish community and indeed all communities safe on a regular basis”.
In a letter published in The Times on Wednesday, Mirvis wrote: “Terror seeks to intimidate and divide us. In fact, it has the opposite effect. A week on, we remain united in our resolve that this cowardice will not polarise our communities. On the contrary, it will bind us together.”
The show of support, two days after women from all backgrounds formed a human-chain across the bridge, was arranged in response to an “overwhelming desire by people of all different faiths and backgrounds wanting to pay their respects”.
The attacker, British-born radical Khalid Masood, went on the rampage at 2pm on Wednesday 22 March, killing four people – including a policeman – and injuring 50 before being shot dead by police. The British Muslim community has since raised more than £30,000 for the victims’ families.
This week’s unity event, held at Westminster Bridge and dubbed ‘a bridge for all communities,’ included a one-minute silence and an opportunity for reflection and prayer, with many laying flowers for the victims. Similar events were held in Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Leicester, Leeds and Sheffield.