Progressive leaders at Humanity Not Hatred vigil

16 November 2023 – 3 Kislev 5784

Progressive Judaism clergy, lay leaders and members were among the hundreds of people at the Humanity Not Hatred vigil in Westminster.

Rabbi Josh Levy spoke alongside Imam Ibrahim Mogra and Reverend Richard Sudworth at the event. You can read his powerful words in the column to the right.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky joined other leaders from all faiths lighting lanterns in memory all those civilians lost in the Israel-Gaza conflict and as a symbol as hope.

Rabbi Charley said: “The world seems very bleak and dialogue is, at this moment, filled with an awful lot of pain. Too often the one unified message we can find is one of fear - fear for today and even more so for tomorrow.

"As a faith leader, a Progressive Jew and, even more so, a parent, I find myself determined to find hope with other.

"Dialogue has to move to the place where we learn to stand first together in grief, and then how to disagree with love - and this event was the start of that."

The event also featured speeches from MPs Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat), Alex Sobel (Labour) and Flick Drummond (Conservative). In a hugely moving moment, Layla Moran – who is of Palestinian heritage – told how she had just found out that one of her family members in Gaza had died and spoke of her compassion for every person mourning in Israel and Palestine.

Those gathered also heard from Palestinian-Israeli singer songwriter Mira Awad and Magen Inon, an Israeli London-based teacher whose parents Yakovi and Bilha Inon were murdered by Hamas on October 7.

The vigil was hosted by Brendan Cox, Co-Founder of the Together Coalition, who said: “Discussions about this conflict are currently dominated by voices who empathise with only one side.

“Tonight, gave voice to the quiet majority - who care about all civilians caught up in this conflict – whether they are Jewish or Muslim, Palestinian or Israeli.

“At a time of rising tensions in our communities it’s critical we all speak up for our shared humanity and shut down those who use the excuse to spread islamophobia or antisemitism.”

· Pictures by Yakir Zur

Rabbi Josh Levy’s words:

We take a moment to reflect on what this moment asks of us.

At this challenging time, we are asked to look beyond ourselves.

We are asked to see and respond to the needs and pain of others.

We are asked to work to make space in our hearts to hold their experiences, too.

We are asked to consider the impact of our actions and words on those around us, and on the society that we build together.

This moment asks that we hold our disagreements with honour and with dignity. That we recognise our multiple narratives and experiences together.

For those of us who are Jews, we are asked in our relationships with others to act ‘mipnei darchei shalom‘ – to act for the sake of the ways of peace.

As we stand here we recognise, all of us, that this is not easy, but that it is the right thing for us to do.

And so in our prayers we also pray that we can find within ourselves the strength and courage to reflect these ideals now more than ever.

We pray that we have the strength and the courage to be what this moment asks each of us to be.