A delegation of German rabbis completed their visit to Israel over the weekend, a trip aimed at expressing solidarity. The rabbis, including members of the steadfast committee of the European Rabbinical Conference, the Chief Rabbi of Germany, Deputy President of the Conference, and the Rabbi of Frankfurt, Rabbi Avichai Apel; the Rabbi of 'Adath Israel' in Berlin, Rabbi David Roberts; the Rabbi of Vienna, Rabbi Yaron Engelmayer; and the Chief Military Rabbi of Germany, Rabbi Mordechai Balla conducted visits in communities surrounding Gaza, including in Sderot, and Ofakim, visited wounded individuals in hospitals, and closely observed the true acts of kindness in the Shurah camp. The rabbis engaged in discussions with displaced individuals in hotels, held meetings with soldiers at IDF bases, and met with families of the abductees. The visit took place under the auspices of the World Mizrahi and with the assistance of the European Rabbinical Conference.
During their visit, the rabbis convened to discuss pressing issues with Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, the head of the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva and a member of the main Rabbinic Council in Israel. The initiative for the visit was spearheaded by Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, the Mizrachi Movement President, who stated that the objective was for the rabbis to witness firsthand the tragedy of the war and absorb the atmosphere, which they would convey upon their return to their communities.
Rabbi Avichai Apel stated, "The rabbis' delegation experienced, during this short and very intense visit, the reality that our brothers and sisters faced during the tragic events of Simchat Torah. The destruction of the victims, the families torn apart, the houses demolished, all leaving a profound and haunting silence. Simultaneously, we witnessed and were deeply moved by the resilience of the families and residents, their determination to rescue and rebuild, and the faith that unites them, all creating a newfound strength that supports everyone in this battle for survival.
"We saw and felt the pain of mourning families, who strengthen one another and us. Families and friends of the abducted who believe and do everything for their return. With Israel, soldiers, police, and security personnel, displaying unyielding courage, driven by unwavering faith in the righteousness of the cause and the desire to overcome evil and the enemy, enabling peaceful, thriving lives.
"We will continue to think, feel, and try to understand the current and ongoing situation. We return to our communities, deeply committed and understanding that this is a time for unity, a time to fortify the residents of Israel, to contribute and do everything for strengthening life and unity, as only then can we remain strong and resilient against the growing antisemitism. Our prayers are for the healing of the wounded, the release of the abductees, the success of the soldiers and police, and in memory of the fallen and murdered."