Hundreds of people joined faith and civic leaders to call for peace in the Middle East at a candlelit vigil in Oxford city centre on Sunday, 5 November.
All who attended were invited to join in "an act of solidarity with those who suffer on all sides" of the conflict in Gaza and Israel. Speakers representing Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft; Imam Monawar Hussain, founder of the Oxford Foundation; and Louise Gordon, Vice President of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, reflected on the grief and suffering endured by all involved.
Bishop Steven said: “It is vital in this moment of crisis for communities to come together across Oxfordshire in solidarity with those who are suffering and to reach out to one another. We must not let conflict in distant lands, however heartbreaking, divide us here.”
The gathered crowd joined the Revd Esther Lay to sing Bob Dylan’s song Blowin’ in the Wind, in a moving tribute to all those affected by events in Israel and Gaza. Leaders from Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist faiths shared prayers for peace and understanding. They were watched by both Oxford MPs, including Layla Moran who has family living currently living in Gaza, as well as council leaders from Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell, South Oxfordshire, Vale of the White Horse and West Oxfordshire districts.
One of those attending, Tracey Jones, said: "I was there. It was beautiful. At the close, a police officer said: 'No one is going to want to leave.' He was right. People mingled for a while. I spoke with several people from other faiths than my own. We shared peace... and I understood a little more of their journey."