Rather than celebrating and resting over the three-day holiday, residents of the Jewish community of Hendon in north London and Radlett were struck by shock and grief after the deadly terror attack that took the lives of two daughters of their beloved and esteemed Rabbi Leo Dee, on Friday, the second day of Passover which is considered a holly day in diaspora communities.
Members of the Jewish London community, including friends of the family, who heard of the devastating news after the Shabbat ended, were confronted only then, with the horrific reports of Maia and Rina's death. The funerals for the Dee sisters will be held today at the Kfar Etzion Cemetery.
Rabbi Leo Dee served as the Assistant Rabbi at the Hendon United Synagogue in North London from 2008-2011, and as the Senior Rabbi at Radlett United Synagogue from 2011-2014, after which the family made aliyah. They were a much beloved and respected family in the UK Jewish community.
“People feel shock and disappointment. The family were communal people and served their communities well and were well-liked.” said a former member of the congregation at Hendon United Synagogue who did not wish to be named.
“I feel sick seeing this… good people who would never hurt anyone, murdered. I can't imagine his anguish, and pray Lucy survives,” said Joseph, another former congregant.
Chief UK Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis laments the death of the British-Israeli girls murdered in Friday's terror strike on the West Bank.
In a statement, the rabbi said: "No words can describe the depth of our shock and sadness at the heartbreaking news of the murder by terrorists in Israel of Maya & Rina Dee, daughters of Rebbetzen Lucy, who is in a critical condition & Rabbi Leo Dee, my dear colleagues. He continued, “They were much loved in the Hendon and Radlett communities in the UK, as well as in Israel and well beyond.”
UK statement not mentioning terrorism
The British Board of Deputies also issued a statement expressing shock over the tragic attack: “We are deeply shocked and saddened at the murder by Palestinian terrorists of Maia and Rina Dee, the daughters of Rabbi Leo and Lucy Dee formerly of Radlett United Synagogue. We wish Lucy Refuah Shlemah and long life to the family as they cope with this devastating news.”
Palestinian terrorist shot and killed 2 British-Israeli nationals, also critically injuring their mother in the West Bank. The victims were identified Saturday as 15-year-old Rina Dee and 20-year-old Maia Dee, the daughters of British-born Rabbi Leo Dee.
While their mother, Lucy (Lea), remains in critical condition fighting for her life, the Jewish community in the UK has expressed shock and sorrow at the brutal act of terrorism against former members of their community.
While many Jewish community leaders spoke out about the attack, the UK government has received criticism from some members of the community for its weakly-worded response to the killing of two of its own citizens.
One member of the Jewish community told Ynet that it was shocking that the UK statement didn’t even mention terrorism. “The response would be different if this happened elsewhere in the world. There is a double standard for British people killed in Israel,” he said.
The UK’s official statement read: “We are saddened to hear about the deaths of two British-Israeli citizens and the serious injuries sustained by a third individual. The UK calls for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions.”
"Tragedy for global Jewish community"
Avi Abelow, family friend, said Rabbi Leo and Lucy Dee are beloved and active members of their community in Efrat. "Two of the sweetest people with the sweetest children", he added. "Rabbi Leo continues to teach Torah classes in his Efrat synagogue today. All the youth of Efrat, as their families, are mourning the loss of either their personal friend or the sibling of their personal friend."
He mentioned that "Just last night the whole community got together, including many youth, for a special communal prayer gathering to pray for Lucy's recovery. The brutal Arab Muslim terrorist attack that murdered these two young, innocent Jewish women, and seriously injured their mother fighting for her life, is not just a tragedy for their family, but for the whole Efrat community and the global Jewish community.
"At the same time that another terrorist committed a terror attack in Tel Aviv, which killed an Italian tourist, and terrorist organizations are shooting rockets at Israel from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, we are once again reminded that the Jewish people have enemies trying to kill us everywhere in our country for just being Jews living in our ancestral homeland.
"If only the UK government and other global bodies would recognize this truth, and truly give support to Israel to stop this ongoing terror war against Israel, which causes loss of life for everyone. In the meantime, as a personal friend and neighbor of the Dee family, my family, neighbors, and community will continue to assist and comfort the Dee family, as we assisted and comforted the family of our other friend and neighbor, Ari Fuld, murdered by terrorists back in 2018."