The Board of Deputies has described the encouraging turnout for the first of its Vigils for the Hostages outside Westminster, with both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the public and Parliamentarians attending to demonstrate their support for the release of hostages from Gaza.
In twice weekly vigils, which began last week and will continue while Parliament is in session, the Board of Deputies is aiming to ensure that the hostages who remain in Gaza remain in the minds of both the general public and of Parliamentarians at Westminster.
“There are still more than 120 hostages remaining in Gaza, in the clutches of Hamas and other terror groups”, a spokesperson for the Board said.
“While we celebrate Chanukah, they are still being held in captivity. Now more than ever, it is vital to ensure that they are not forgotten. We hope and pray for peace, but know that there cannot be a lasting resolution without the release of every last hostage taken on October 7th.
“The take-up we have had so far, both from our community and allies, has been encouraging, and we thank all those who have attended. We urge those who have the time and ability to join us for a future vigil to sign up via our website.”
Taking place in Parliament Square, attendees from Parliament have so far included MPs Dame Margaret Hodge, Robert Courts, Ian Paisley and Christian Wakeford, and Peers including Lord Mann, Baroness Merron and Baroness Taylor.
The vigils are staffed by the Board of Deputies and are being co-ordinated with the police and Community Security Trust.
Writing in her Chanukah message for the Jewish community, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “At Chanukah, we celebrate the redemption of the Jewish people from the yoke of their oppressors. In the darkness of winter, we light candles to represent freedom and hope.
“Never has Chanukah been more meaningful than this year. Israel was plunged into darkness on 7 October 2023 by the most appalling terrorist massacre that the country has ever experienced. We have all grieved for those lost and abducted and pray for the safe return of the hostages still in the clutches of Hamas.”
Image credit: Board of Deputies