London Jews Mark National Day of Prayer in Ruins of Great Synagogue
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London Jews Mark National Day of Prayer in Ruins of Great Synagogue

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Standing under the open sky, amid the ruins of what for 250 years was their most venerated place of worship, London Jews today heard Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz lash out at the “relentless enemy of Israel” during services marking British Jewry’s participation in the National Day of Prayer on the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war.

The demolished walls of the Great Synagogue destroyed by Nazi bombs last year could not hold all the people who responded to the chief rabbi’s call to pray for victory, and amplifiers were set up to bring his message to the crowds of worshippers that thronged the streets outside the ruins of the synagogue.

Speaking from an improvised platform erected where the “balemer,” the pulpit, used to stand in the Great Synagogue, as an airplane circled overhead, Rabbi Herts assured his congregation that “the God of righteousness will destroy every social and political structure built on tyranny, race hatred, lies and the deification of force. But God works through human agents and happy is the nation that has been chosen to be in the forefront of this battle for freedom of man. Britain’s Jewish children will bear in gladness their share of service and sacrifice called for in this world conflict. Unshakable is our conviction that victory will crown the righteous cause of Britain and that the Great Synagogue will rise again.”

The services opened with a psalm sung by the choir and then an arch, behind which hung the Union Jack, was uncovered. Following the sermon by Rabbi Hertz a prayer was offered up for the royal family, “El Mele Rachmim” was recited for those fallen during the war and for the victims of the pogroms all over Europe, and the services closed with the blowing of the shofar.

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