Some 1,500 Israelis gathered in cities across the country on Monday to pray for the people of war-torn Syria, hours before the start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Under the banner “The world is silent, we are not,” and with the involvement of rabbis and communal leaders, people gathered in Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Golan Heights and other places in prayer, music and silent meditation.
The events were organized and coordinated via Facebook by the son of the late peace activist Rabbi Menachem Froman, Shivi Froman.
“Hundreds of people, men, women and children, are slaughtered daily and the world is silent,” he told Walla News. He said that the pre-Yom Kippur gathering was “to cry out, to pray, to hope, to sing, to identify and to awaken the mercy of the world in general and about the suffering that is taking place here next to us.”
“I have been preoccupied with the issue over the past few months, and has greatly pained me,” Froman said. “We continue with our lives. This gives me deja-vu of the world’s silence about the Holocaust.”
He said he was inspired to launch the event by something his father once told him: “‘Shivileh, can you do something about the situation? No? Then pray for it.'”
Other participants echoed Froman’s views about the need to speak out on behalf of those suffering in Syria.
“On the other side of the border, one of the greatest tragedies since World War II is happening,” said Eli Malka, head of Golan Regional Council. “More than 500,000 people have been killed. Children are abandoned and left as orphans among the ruins.”
“Millions of refugees have fled their homes,” he told Israel Radio. “The world says nothing. The world is cynical. We cannot remain silent.”
More than 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, according to the latest United Nations figures, and millions have been displaced since it first erupted in the form of popular protests in March 2011.
והנה גם וידאו מפרדס חנה
Posted by Maitraiya Mitra Ehud Dray on pirmdiena, 2016. gada 10. oktobris
On Monday, dozens gathered just meters from the Syrian border to pray for those trapped in the conflict.
Rabbi Aviya Rozen, a resident of Hispin on the Golan, said, “We make a strong distinction between viewing someone as an enemy and viewing him as a human being.”
כמה עשרות בני אדם מכונסים כעת ליד הגבול הסורי, תחת הקריאה: "העולם שותק, אנחנו לא". המטרה-רגע לפני יום כיפור, קריאה להפסקת האלימות בסוריה. pic.twitter.com/JOtkw3EGlz
— Rubi Hammerschlag (@rubih67) October 10, 2016
Last week UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described the “ghastly avalanche of violence and destruction” and called for extraordinary steps to be taken.”
“The UN Security Council should, without any further delay, adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may have been committed,” he said.
At the end of September the UN’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council that the conditions in eastern Aleppo, which is besieged and assaulted by all sides by government forces, had descended into the “merciless abyss of humanitarian catastrophe.”
Speaking to the Security Council via video link from Geneva, O’Brien painted a grim picture of the conditions in the war-wracked eastern part of the city, where at least 320 civilians including 100 children have been killed in the past week. An additional 765 have been wounded.
AFP and AP contributed to this report