The London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) led a solidarity trip to the south of Israel and Tel Aviv for local LSJS students as well as those from the UK and USA. The trip included an emotional visit to the site of the Nova music festival, where one member of the group, Stephen Colman, found the memorial for the person he has been saying kaddish for.

They went on to see the site of the police station in Sderot where Rabbi Ari Katz from Yeshivat Hesder Sderot told participants the many stories of bravery that took place there. Participants also visited the Shuva junction where volunteers serve food to soldiers.

To witness not only the site of such horrific atrocities but also how Israelis and Jews from all over the world are coming together to support, comfort, help, and fight for Israel made this trip an experience that was incredibly emotional but also deeply inspiring.

On the second day, the group heard a talk by popular LSJS educator Dr. Tanya White on ‘October 7th – the day before and the day after’. This was followed by moving accounts from various perspectives, including from the security guard, who spoke about how he voluntarily joined the fight for Kibbutz Kfar Azza on the morning of 7th October. It was an incredible story of bravery and a realization of how widespread the impact of the war is.

Finally, participants met with Julie Kupershtein, the mother of the hostage Bar Kupershtein. Her situation is especially critical since her husband is wheelchair-bound and as the oldest son, Bar was the family’s provider. According to Michael, “Hostage Square currently serves as a place to listen to stories in real-time that we don’t yet know how they end. It is where everyone focuses on empathizing with the hostage families and thinking about their plight. It was important that the group could come here to hear directly from relatives affected.”

“When we looked at organizing a trip for LSJS students we felt it was important to visit the south and Hostage Square at this time,” said Michael Rainsbury, LSJS’s Head of Adult Education, who organized the trip. “We came not just to see but to commit to building the Jewish future, which is ultimately what LSJS is there to do. We were strengthened by every person we met and every story we heard, and we hope in turn, our presence gave them strength too,” said Michael.

“Although it was not an easy decision to go ahead and visit the sites where so many have suffered unimaginable horror, victims from 7th October were happy to share their stories with us and we are grateful to JRoots for working with us to organize such a meaningful journey,” said Joanne Greenaway, Chief Executive of LSJS