The Chief Rabbi led a moving tribute last night to those killed during the Lag B’Omer tragedy in Israel.
Addressing a virtual memorial ceremony with over 1,000 participants, Ephraim Mirvis said: “What happened on Lag B’Omer was the very opposite of what should have happened.
“This year during the initial days of the Omer there was respite, a break in the plague of death that is Coronavirus.
“We had been celebrating that there had been hardly any deaths in Israel and that we were moving towards an era of peace, tranquillity and good health.
“Then came along Lag B’Omer and for us this year it was a day of death, horrific suffering and unimaginable pain and horror for all of Israel.”
Believed to be the worst peacetime tragedy in modern Israeli history, at least 45 people died at a stampede that broke out at an overcrowded Lag B’Omer event in the north of Israel on Friday evening.
More than 150 people were injured at Mount Meron during Israel’s largest post-COVID gathering, attended by tens of thousands of Charedim.
The Chief Rabbi added: “We cannot even try to attempt an explanation but we can be together. That is something the Jewish people are wonderful at doing.”
Joining the Chief Rabbi was Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, who thanked the community for “showing such solidarity with the people of Israel.”
“As Israeli ambassador I finally got to feel how strong we are as a community. The Jewish people have supported and strengthened those families who need our prayers to get back to a normal life and be healthy again.
“This tragedy was also international and the whole world was shocked. We received condolences from the entire British leadership… who all showed solidarity with the people of Israel.
“I would like to say how much we care and how important it is to us.”
The ambassador also shared her condolences with the family of Moshe Bergman, “a young boy who just wanted to celebrate with all the other people.”
On Friday, Jewish News confirmed that the 24-year-old, originally from Manchester’s Charedi community, was one of the victims of the stampede.
The evening was hosted by Rabbi Nicky Liss, Chair of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue (RCUS), with attendees also hearing personal reflections by Rebbetzin Freda Kaplan, part of the Tribe team in Israel.
You can watch the ceremony back here:
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
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