Swarm of wasps makes Succot congregation take flight

By Simon Rocker, September 25, 2013
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Worshippers were forced to flee Shabbat morning service when hundreds of wasps swarmed down from the roof of their shul.

The congregants, many elderly, came under attack as they arrived at the little Orthodox Machzikei Hadas synagogue in Dublin. Chazan Terry Walsh was stung before he could escape.

“It was like an air attack — wasps were swooping all over the place. It had to be seen to be believed,” said treasurer David Golding. “I have never seen the members move so fast.” Mr Golding returned on Sunday with a can of fly-killer only to find many of the wasps already dead and littering the carpet.

Mr Walsh said he noticed dozens of wasps which appeared stuck to the outside of a window. But when he made a dash for the door, he realised they were inside “crawling up the paroches [ark curtain] and over the whole place.

“They were floating around but they weren’t making a noise so when they settled on a person, there was no warning. I thought we’ve got to be tough and daven.”

The wasps even got caught up in the folds of his tallit. “Someone said there is a wasp on you here — he began knocking wasps off me, and I began knocking wasps off him. One of them must have crawled up my sleeve and I got a nasty sting. My wife said it was a no-brainer. It was pretty obvious you couldn’t daven in there.”

The wasps appear to have built a nest under the roof and entered through the eaves — although why they began to swarm over Shabbat and not on the previous two days of Yomtov Mr Golding could not explain.

“Maybe we upset them by eating their cousins’ honey over Rosh Hashanah,” he said.

This is not the first time wasps have disrupted a Jewish event. A few weeks ago, United Synagogue’s president Stephen Pack was forced to take a garden party he had laid on for officers and trustees indoors.

A pest controller was due at Machzikei Hadas on Monday to smoke out the insects before Yomtov on Wednesday night.

“I hope that we will be buzzing over Yomtov,” Mr Golding said, “but this time for different reasons.”

Last updated: 10:45am, September 25 2013