Leading members of the Jewish community received the support of Epping Forest District Councillors at the Civic Offices on Monday.
District Council Chairman Darshan Sunger, Council Leader Chris Whitbread and County Councillor Lee Scott joined Rabbi Yossi Posen and Rabbi Odom Brandman in prayers following the attacks on Israel last week.
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Councillor Sunger said:
Last week, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in Israel, we called this a tragedy. As we have learnt more, the scale and devastation of these terrorist attacks by Hamas have become more apparent. These were atrocities carried out against innocent men, women and children and were of the most barbaric kind. We condemn this utterly. It is therefore all the more important that the council stands with our Jewish community, with all the support we can provide.
Candles were lit outside the council offices.
Though Epping Forest is many miles away, the recent events in Israel have been devastating to local residents. There are few if any local Jewish households unaffected.
Councillor Sunger said:
As a member of a religious and ethnic minority, I know what it is to live far from my ancestral home. But, for all its faults, I have found Epping Forest to be blessed. It is the place that I now call home. It has opened its arms in welcome to me and my family, just as it has done to so many other people.
In a violent and dangerous world, we are a safe and tolerant community. That is how we must remain. The instincts of the vast majority of our people are kindness and compassion. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and other people of every faith and denomination have made their homes here. Epping Forest has spread its arms of welcome widest to our Jewish friends and neighbours.
And so it should be, for no people have suffered more persecution and torment than the Jewish people.
Today I count so many Jewish friends among my neighbours. From the horrors of the Second World War, Epping Forest embraced its Jewish brothers and sisters, and today we have one of the most important Jewish communities outside London.
In return, our Jewish community has enriched our district through the wisdom, hard work, care and compassion of its people. We would be so much less without you.
And so, it is within that context that I welcome Rabbi Posen, Rabbi Brandman and our other guests this evening. The events of the last week or so are far beyond comprehension. How can it be that yet again, such acts of unspeakable brutality have been visited upon innocent people – just because they are Jewish?
It is not right. It has never been right, and it can never be right.
On behalf of our council, our councillors, and our residents, I offer you our heartfelt support. Though we may be of little comfort at this time, please accept our condolences. Know that we are your friends and that we stand with you in your grief.
Rabbi Yossi Posen, with Rabbi Bandman and other members of the Jewish community thanked councillors for their support and for speaking up in condemnation of the attacks by Hamas. They took comfort from knowing the council was with them and looked forward to working together in support of the Jewish community.
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