Borehamwood leads calls for the release of hostages

The Chief Rabbi and Dr Sharone Lifschitz, daughter of hostage Oded Lifschitz, spoke at Sunday’s rally


Posters of the 134 hostages still captive in Gaza were held aloft as over 1,000 people gathered in Borehamwood on Sunday to campaign for their release (Photo: E Jacobs Photography)

In a sleepy corner of Hertfordshire, over 1,000 people gathered on Sunday to call for the release of the 134 hostages still held in Gaza.

Speaking at the “Israel in our Herts” event in Borehamwood, Dr Sharone Lifschitz, daughter of 83-year-old hostage Oded Lifschitz, implored world leaders to reach a deal to release the hostages, saying: “We don’t have time left. There is a deal on the table and it’s the last one.”

Oded and his wife Yocheved, 85, were kidnapped on October 7 by Hamas terrorists from their home on Kibbutz Nir Oz. Yocheved was released on October 23.

Sharone said her father was a passionate advocate for human rights and, together with Yocheved, regularly transported patients from Gaza to receive medical treatment at hospitals in Israel.

The rally-goers were moved to tears as Sharone read out the names of all the hostages who were abducted from Kibbitz Nir Oz, including the Bibas family — Shiri, her husband, Yarden, and their two small children, Kfir, who turned one in captivity and his four-year-old brother Ariel.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis described the hostages as “our brothers and sisters, part of the global Jewish family”, saying: “The hostages remain at the forefront of our minds until the last one comes home. We will cry out to the world's leaders: ‘Bring Them Home’.”

Addressing non-Jewish supporters, including Christian Action Against Antisemitism (CAAA), whose co-founder Hayley Ace spoke at the rally, Rabbi Mirvis said: “We are so heartened and encouraged that…we are joined globally by so many good friends of the Jewish people who are showing solidarity with us, some of whom are here today, and to you, I say thank you so very, very much.”

The event, organised by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, attracted support from the United Synagogue, the Reform and Liberal movements, as well as StandWithUs UK, the Union of Jewish Students and the Hertfordshire Jewish Forum.

Speaking afterwards, Rabbi Gershon Silins, from the Liberal Synagogue Elstree, said: “We gathered together as a group from all parts of the Jewish community, and beyond, to let the world know that the Israeli hostages are ours as well — and to let Israel know that they are not dancing alone in the dark... we are with them."

Rabbi Alex Chapper, senior rabbi of Borehamwood & Elstree United Synagogue, said: “You feel very proud when over a thousand people gather in your local park to show solidarity with Israel and call for the release of all the hostages."

Josh Moont, one of the organisers of the event told the JC afterwards: “It was so important to bring together people from across the many Jewish communities as well as our Christian friends and those of all faiths and no faith to show our unwavering support for Israel and to not let the world forget about the plight of the 134 hostages who remain in captivity.

He described the rally as "one of solidarity, where we sang songs of peace and concluded with the Israeli national anthem, which means ‘the hope’, followed by God Save the King, demonstrating our proud Britishness underpinned by core Jewish values. We hope and pray for a speedy end to the war, peace for all peoples and the immediate return of the hostages to their families.”

Other speakers included Michael Wegier, CEO of the Board of Deputies, student Hannah Curtis, a StandWithUS UK fellow, who spoke of her experience of antisemitism on campus and leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Jeremy Newmark.

The Borehamwood community have been holding weekly vigils since October 13, calling for the release of the hostages. The next one is on Friday morning.

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