Dreadful scenes broke my heart

By Amanda Bomsztyk

I am writing this less than 48 hours after our beloved Manchester became the victim of a despicable terrorist attack, the dreadful scenes emerging from Manchester Arena broke my heart. How dare they do this to our children?

As the reality set in, CST immediately began to asses how this could affect our community, and the team in Manchester has worked tirelessly ever since, staff and volunteers alike, we are horribly aware that nobody knows what the coming hours, days and weeks will bring.

What we already know is bad enough. The softest of targets, attacked by a murderous jihadist who was apparently from Manchester. Is there anybody in our community who does not know of at least one person, one child, who was at the Arena?

It is deeply shocking on every level, but it is why CST does its work and it is why police, government and communal bodies work so closely together on security matters. This is when the harsh reality of why we have security becomes all too horribly obvious.

We have all seen the terrorist attacks across Europe in recent years, including those targeting Jewish communities. It isnít new to Manchester either.

We have seen more than our fair share of jihadi terror arrests here, including the 2012 case when a married couple from Oldham planned a bombing campaign against our own Jewish community.

At CST, we try to always be aware of what the overseas attacks, the threats and the British arrests mean. We know what happens, just once, if the terrorist escapes the attention of our extremely professional Police and security services.

That is what we all felt and saw in Manchester. It is why we work so hard and so passionately with the entire British Jewish community in helping to ensure that appropriate security measures are in place.

Our intention is to protect our community and to provide reassurance. We all know the importance of community, of helping each other and that is what CST does, that is what our volunteers and professional staff do every day, we play our part in communal security.

Moving forward, as media attention turns to those who have lost loved ones, the pain of what has happened will be dreadful to witness. CSTís staff and volunteers will continue to do their utmost, working throughout our communities, and in close partnership with police and government.

Sadly this problem is going to persist for the foreseeable future.

The CST team will need to continue to be professional, calm, vigilant and resolute, but so will each and every member of our Jewish community, whether that is in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow or anywhere else.

Lastly, I will make no apology for using this article to ask you to report both antisemitic incidents and suspicious activities. Together we will protect our community.

*Amanda Bomsztyk is northern regional director of the CST in Manchester

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