Jewish communities across London reached out to help the dozens of families affected by the fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in west London in the early hours of Wednesday.
Holland Park Synagogue, part of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community, issued an urgent appeal to members to donate items for victims of the nearby disaster, which was known to have claimed 12 lives by 6pm yesterday.
A shul spokesman expressed “our horror at the tragic event,” telling members that those who lived in the tower had “lost everything… anything you can do to help will be much appreciated”. They said the shul “will be collecting clothes and toiletries on Sunday morning” and encouraged members to donate to a Just Giving crowdfunding page.
Elsewhere, New West End Synagogue in Bayswater has organised a collection on Sunday.
Synagogues as far away as Hertfordshire joined in the relief effort, with Borehamwood shul starting a communal collection yesterday evening.
The inferno ripped through the block housing 120 families in north Kensington, leaving people trapped on upper floors.
As flames licked up the building, some desperately held their babies from windows, while others jumped. Several eyewitnesses broke down as they recalled what they saw.
Hundreds of firefighters battled to control the blaze, which was still ongoing 12 hours after it started, with five hospitals treating 50 injured people.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “The pictures of the fire at Grenfell Tower are truly harrowing. My thoughts and prayers today are with all of those affected and with the heroes running towards danger to help save lives. May God be with them all.”
The building had only recently been refurbished, with new aluminium cladding covering the exterior.
Eyewitnesses say the cladding appeared to spread the fire more rapidly. London politicians, including Mayor Sadiq Khan said that “questions need answering”.
A statement from World Jewish Relief said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and all those suffering. The outpouring of love and support from the Jewish and wider community today has been remarkable.”