Jewish faith leaders attend vigil as fear grips community

"We are living in scary times. Outside the school today there were CST. It is scary for us and our children"


Faith leaders from the Jewish community were among thousands who attended a vigil to show solidarity and support for the victims of the terror attack in Manchester Arena.

Jewish leaders expressed condolences to families after the suicide bomb attack in Manchester killed 22 people – including children – and left at least 59 others injured.

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag of Whitefield Hebrew Congregation, represented the Jewish community alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Conservative party's Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

Rabbi Guttentag said: "This was a unprecedented gathering for a unprecedented event.

"The Jewish community here is in shock and we share the grief of those families who have lost loved ones.

"We identify with the children involved. 

"We have been through it ourselves so, sadly, we are not surprised these attacks have widened out to include all society."

He said sharing the stage with faith leaders from Manchester's Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities sent a powerful message.

"We are all children of God. When someone assaults us we come together to give each other strength."

Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi of the Reform movement travelled to Manchester pay her respects. She said: "When you look at the people out there you feel calm, you feel warm, and it shows the city's resilience. And that is the purpose to carry on with our lives."

The bomber, named by police as Salman Abedi, detonated the improvised device at Manchester Arena  in the worst attack to hit Britain since the 2005 suicide bomb attacks.

Children and their parents had been attending the sell-out pop concert by Ariana Grande.

Thousands stood still for a minutes silence at the vigil on Monday event in Albert Square, in the city. 

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, told the JC that the gathering of faith leaders and members of the public showed "Manchester's resilience".

"It's the best possible message to send out. Terrorism is designed to divide us but what you've seen today shows we won't be beaten by that."

Meanwhile, among Manchester strictly Orthodox community in the Prestwich, in the north of the city, the events of the day had left a mood of fear.

Suzie, 50, said she was "terrified" of a secondary attack targeting Jews.

"We are living in scary times. Out side the school today there were CST. It is scary for us and our children.

"But we put our trust in God." 

The Community Security Trust has increased patrols in Manchester's Jewish areas following the attack.

One volunteer, who did not wish to be named, said: "We've seen before with attacks in France when the first target is not a Jewish one, Jews often become the second [target].

"The community here are rightly terrified and it's our job to protect and reassure them."

Suzie's 19-year-old daughter, Sheva, said: "CST make you feel like someone is looking after you.

"I don't feel safe here. It feels safer in Israel because you know there everyone looks out for you. Here we feel like the minority, like we could be next."

In Brackmans kosher bakery, one woman, Micky, was trying to reassure her 10-year-old daughter.

She said: "All her friends are talking about it. All the kids have been asking questions and they are worried when they see CST everywhere.

"We have to be careful about how we talk to our children about the attack and who carried it out.

"This was carried out by a person who doesn't respect life, he has no morals."

Micky, who moved to Manchester from Israel 20 years ago, said she was used to the aftermath of terror.

"It's frightening and it brings all that back for me. It's very sad that it feels normal.

"This was an attack on humanity. But we can't let the attack get what he wants, which is for us to live in fear."

Children who attend King David Jewish school were at the concert.

Jonny Wineberg, vice-president of the Jewish Representative Council, revealed on Twitter that his daughter was leaving the venue when the bomb went off.

Speaking to the JC, Mr Wineberg said: “You can't imagine what that feels like as a parent. 

"The second I heard the news I tried to call my daughter. Luckily she answered and we knew she was ok.

"Other parents were not so lucky."

Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky, of Menorah Reform Synagoge in Altrincham, said he had been comforting congregants whose children were caught up in the attacks.

"It was very frightening for them. Luckily they were all ok and not hurt.

"Something like this doesn't just affect the community, it affects all of Manchester.

"We do our best to reassure people and we pray."

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