Community Tehillim

Text of the Jewish Representative Council’s message read at the Community Tehillim on Monday 29th May 2017, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi, on behalf of the President of the Jewish Representative Council, Sharon Bannister:

Chief Rabbi, Rabbonim, Honoured Guests, children of all ages Ladies and Gentlemen

My thanks first to Holy Law Shul for offering us the venue for this Community Tehillim and to all of you for taking the time to join us here.

One week ago our community was confronted with a terrorist attack on children and young people that shocked us all. Few of us can begin to comprehend its horror and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the injured and the families of the bereaved.

In the immediate aftermath and the ensuing days we have seen the selflessness and generosity of so many. The hotels, taxi drivers and others who gave free accommodation, transport, food and drink. The kosher shops and individuals who donated food that we were able to take to the victims families in hospitals. The professionalism of the authorities and emergency services. Our thanks go to the doctors and nurses who went above and beyond to heal and care for those in need; to our elected representatives, community leaders and faith groups whose messages of unity and love were such the proper response

A special thanks to the police, who always, alongside our own CST, protect our community and who, during the week, have worked tirelessly to track down those involved in planning this atrocity and possibly others. And to the volunteers offering mental health support, including Heads Up, a charity based in our community, who have set up a trauma centre in the City Centre supported by trainers from Israel where they know only too well such terror. Thank you.

The perpetrator of this atrocity does not represent any community in our city, they represent evil, hatred and despair. They will never prevail. We will respond with love, kindness and togetherness.

This is a city that has faced adversity over the years. A city that has always recovered because of the resilience of all its communities. Our wounds can be healed. When Yaacov and Esau met after a 20 year estrangement, Esau embraced Yaacov, fell on his neck, and kissed him. It was an action to repair a broken bond. Tikkun Olam – We all must take action to repair our world.

This July, in a positive, defiant response to the naysayers, we will dedicate our forthcoming Jewish Arts Festival to the City and People of Manchester and we will ask for your support in taking that message out.

We ask all of you to reach out to those whom we may see as different and ensure that they know We Stand Together – against hatred and intolerance, to celebrate our community in all its diversity, committed to build a safer and stronger society.

In the words of poet Longfella, who spoke so passionately at the vigil in Albert Square on Tuesday evening:
This is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.
But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, Northern wit, and Greater Manchester’s lyrics.
And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.
Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever.

We are all, forever, Manchester.