Ultra-Orthodox leader visits Jerusalem Pride victims

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern visited victims of the city’s Pride parade attack in hospital on Friday.

Rabbi Stern posted photographs of the visit on his Hebrew Facebook page – and many have been moved by one image in particular, reports The Tablet.

In it, the ultra-Orthodox cleric – in his full rabbinic dress – is seen holding the hand of a victim of Thursday’s attack, which left six wounded – including a sixteen-year-old girl who is currently in critical condition.

The alleged assailant, Yishai Schlissel, also an ultra-Orthodox Jew, was released three weeks ago after serving 10 years in prison for stabbing four people at the same parade in 2005.

“The person that committed this sinful act is a criminal in every way, and his intention to kill Jews is something which is terrifying,” Stern told The Jerusalem Post.

A spokesperson for Stern said of the visit: “The rabbi told [the victim] that Judaism and bloodshed are mutually exclusive.

“He prayed for the man’s recovery and the healing of all those wounded.”

The rabbi’s visit comes as other leading ultra-Orthodox figures spoke out to condemn the vicious attack – with Israel’s Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef asking the Jewish people to stand together in “kindness and tolerance.”

“The Torah of the Jewish people forbids all violence and [efforts to] injure any person, and especially someone who tries to kill another person,” said Lau.

“It’s unthinkable that a man can lift up his hand against another Jewish soul in the name of religion,” said Yosef.

“I am praying from the bottom of my heart for the full recovery of those who were injured, and in the face of this type of hatred I call on the entire Jewish people to return to unity in kindness and tolerance.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nation shortly after the attack, promising Israelis that justice will be done.

He said: “Justice will be dealt to whoever was responsible for this act. In the State of Israel, an individual’s freedom of choice is one of the country’s most basic values.”

“It is up to us to make sure that every man and woman can live in safety at all times in every way that they choose to live.

“This is how we work and this is how we will continue to do things. I wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”

Last night (August 1), a number of leaders from both sides of the political and religious spectrum took part in a mass peace rally across the city.

Organisers of the march said that they wanted to show that violence will not “silence them in their quest for unity and equality” in Jerusalem.