British Jewry Joins in Solidarity

LONDON, England -
The dais at the event in London, England.
The dais at the event in London, England.

An unprecedented demonstration of solidarity took place on Sunday afternoon in the United Kingdom’s Jewish communities. Large asifos were held in London, Manchester and Gateshead, bringing together over 7,000 Yidden from the entire spectrum of the kehillah.

The gatherings were timed to coincide with the Asifas Tefillah that was held at the entrance to Yerushalayim in Eretz Yisrael. As Harav Efrayim Padwa, shlita, Mara d’Asra London, said, the whole of Klal Yisrael is like one entity. Although Yidden are spread out all over the world, the troubles of one section should be felt by the whole kehillah.

Indeed, the most outstanding general feature of all the asifos was the participation of every section of the chareidi kehillah. The asifos were an opportunity to appreciate the phenomenal growth of the kehillah in recent years. Despite diverse backgrounds, all drew together in a significant demonstration of the strength of the combined community. Each asifah concluded with an inspiring Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim, as the words of Shema Yisrael were uttered by all participants.

The London asifah was held outside the Yesoidei HaTorah Hall in Stamford Hill. The adjacent Egerton Road was temporarily closed to traffic, in order to accommodate the masses who converged on the area. An estimated 4,500 people were present, including both the North London and North West London communities. Besides the numerous Rabbanim, talmidei chachamim and baalei batim who participated, the cheder tinokos shel beis rabban over the age of nine were also encouraged to join in the tefillos.

The asifah began with Minchah, led by Harav Pinchos Schneebalg, Rosh Yeshivah Vizhnitz, London. Harav Efrayim Padwa, Mara d’Asra, inspired the gathering with divrei hisorerus, in which he emphasized that Klal Yisrael is facing unparalleled challenges and dangers, R”l. The Tehillim and Selichos that were recited afterwards were exactly the parts that were chosen in Eretz Yisrael. The recitation of Tehillim was led by Harav Avrohom Moshkovitz and the stirring Selichos that followed were led by Harav Yeshaya Schlesinger, Rav Beis Hamedrash Shaarei Tefillah. The asifah reached a climax with the recital of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim, led by Harav Elchonon Halpern, shlita, Rav Beis Hamedrash Beis Shmuel and President of UOHC. Harav Boruch Leib Rabinowitz, Rav Biala Beis Hamedrash, recited Kaddish afterwards. The feeling of achdus between all the participants was overwhelming, and led to a spontaneous rekidah after the conclusion of the asifah.

A partial view of the crowd in London.
A partial view of the crowd in London.

In Manchester, the Asifas Tefillah was held in the premises of the Machzikei Hadass shul. However, the crowd overflowed the actual shul, with not a single standing space left in the main beis medrash. The record crowd of 1,500 people also packed the small beis medrash and the adjacent shul hall. The asifah was relayed by loudspeakers to all the participants, including those who stood in the courtyard outside the shul. Many tinokos shel beis rabban also participated in the shul hall.

The proceedings began with a rousing tefillas Minchah, led by Harav Chaim Meir Ernster, Rav Beis Hamedrash Vizhnitz. The Tehillim and Selichos were chosen to follow those recited in Eretz Yisrael and were led by Harav Shmuel Goldberg, Mashgiach Yeshivas Sha’arei Torah. The final Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim was emotionally conducted by the Mara d’Asra, Harav M.M. Schneebalg, shlita.

A partial view of the gathering in Gateshead.
A partial view of the gathering in Gateshead.

The Gateshead Asifas Tefillah was held in the Bewick Centre. All the Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivah were present, including Harav Avrohom Gurwicz, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah Yeshivas Beis Yosef, who had just arrived from London. More than 1,000 people, including bachurim and children, participated in the almost unique gathering. Minchah was led by Rabbi Meir Ehrentreu. The Tehillim, Selichos and Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim were led by Harav Mordechai Yosef Karnowsky, Mashgiach Yeshivas Beis Yosef. The asifah concluded with a heartfelt tefillah of Acheinu kol Beis Yisrael, expressing the yearnings of all the thousands that attended the national asifos that the whole of Klal Yisrael should soon be genuinely united together in understanding our true mission in the world.