A few hours before Shabbat in Israel, Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern posted an arresting photograph on his Hebrew Facebook page. In it, the ultra-Orthodox cleric, in his full rabbinic regalia, is holding the hand of a victim of yesterday’s Jerusalem pride parade attack. Six people were initially reported as wounded, including a sixteen-year-old girl who was reported to be in critical condition. She died over the weekend. The alleged assailant, Yishai Schlissel, was an ultra-Orthodox man who had previously served 10 years in prison for a similar crime in 2005.
“The rabbi told [the victim] that Judaism and bloodshed are mutually exclusive,” Stern’s staff wrote. “He prayed for the man’s recovery and the healing of all those wounded.” At the hospital, the Jerusalem Post reported Stern said, “The person that committed this sinful act is a criminal in every way, and his intention to kill Jews is something which is terrifying.”
Other ultra-Orthodox figures have also sharply condemned the attack. “The Torah of the Jewish people is the Torah of life, and the value of life is above everything,” said Moshe Gafni, head of the ultra-Orthodox UTJ party. “The attempt to kill and injure is something severe which we utterly reject, and is something which is opposed by Judaism, morality Jewish law and our path since we have been a people.”
Israel’s Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef similarly decried the attack. “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.”
This post was updated on Monday, August 3.