Over 1,000 gather in London to call for the release of hostages, six months after the October 7 massacre

Photo © BOD

More than 1,000 people gathered in Whitehall yesterday evening to mark six months since the massacres of 7th October and to call for the release of the more than 130 hostages still held in captivity in Gaza.

The crowd was addressed by family members of hostages, the father of a young British man murdered on 7th October and an MDA first responder on October 7th, as well as by rabbis from a number of denominations.

Ayala Harel, the niece of hostage Michel Nisenbaum, spoke of how her entire family had hidden in their shelter as the massacres were perpetrated on Kibbutz Be’eri, and how Michel had been taken hostage as he attempted to save the life of his granddaughter.

She said:

“We must raise our voices together to demand the return of Michel and all of the hostages. We must keep reaching out to our leaders, demanding they do everything in their power to secure their release. We cannot rest until all the hostages are safely reunited with their families. Together, let us stand in solidarity unwavering and bring Michel and everyone home.”

Steve Brisley, whose brother-in-law Eli Sharabi is a hostage in Gaza, said:

“I’d ask that you all close your eyes and think about a family man – a father, a hard-working provider, a football fan. Can you picture him? Can you see him? He’s my brother-in-law, but he’s also your brother, your father, your husband, your friend. He’s also you. He is all of us. Thank you for seeing him.”

Michael Marlowe, the father of Jake Marlowe, the 26-year old British citizen who was murdered at the Nova music festival, thanked everyone for attending and for showing support for the hostages.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis said:

“At so many Seder tables there will be empty chairs this year. Empty chairs for a child or grandchild or parents or grandparents or spouses. From here we declare our promise to the hostages and to their families. We will not be silent until every single one of them comes back home.”

Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community of the United Kingdom, said:

“The hostages are our brothers and sisters. Not a day can go by when we do not pray for them, feel for them and speak out for them, stand strongly for them, yearn for their return and pray for their return and that is what we do here, this evening.”

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK, said:

“May our words and our prayers and our thoughts reach the hearts of the families, reach down the deepest tunnels to give strength to those who are hanging on.”

Rabbis Charley Baginsky and Josh Levy, CEOS of Progressive Judaism, spoke together: Rabbi Levy said:

“Six months on, over 180 days after 7th October, we gather again still in sadness and still in trauma.”

Rabbi Baginsky added:

“We continue to name our pain and create a moment when we can see each other, support each other and give each other strength.”

Ophir Tor, a Magen David Adom first responder on October 7, told the crowd,

“We are colour and religion blind. We help everyone. And yet 27 of us are dead, and there is no outside voice saying that it’s wrong”.

At the conclusion of the vigil, the names of all the remaining hostages were read out and Tara Leigh-Singer sang her own composition “Bring Them Home”, before the national anthems of Israel and the UK were played.

The event was organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, UJIA, MDA UK and the Embassy of Israel.

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