World Central Kitchen to honor 7 fallen aid workers with celebration of life

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World Central Kitchen (WCK) held an interfaith Celebration of Life at the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday to honor the seven aid workers killed in Gaza while delivering food to starving civilians.

The memorial service honored Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha of Palestine, John Chapman of Britain, Jacob Flickinger of the U.S. and Canada, Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom of Australia, James Henderson of Britain, James Kirby of Britain, and Damian Soból of Poland.

SEE ALSO | Virginia doctor’s glimpse into Gaza hospital tells the story of life amid Israeli strikes

“They risked everything to feed people they did not know –– and would never meet. In the worst moments, the best of humanity shows up,” WCK founder Chef José Andres said during his remarks. “They were the best of humanity. Their example should inspire us to do better –– to be better.”

Andres attended the event along with roughly 560 others, according to WCK. Some guests included WCK staff and families, senior U.S. government officials, diplomats from over 30 nations and leaders of American Jewish and Muslim groups, WCK also said.

“Every single civilian life is sacred, and must never be treated as collateral damage,” Andres said.

There was also a performance by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. A letter from President Joe Biden was read at the service.

SEE ALSO | Community holds DC vigil for aid workers killed while supplying aid in Gaza

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington said.

“They will be remembered and revered for the kindness they have shown, for the love they have given. They are shining examples of humanity,” added Rabbi Susan Shankman with Washington Hebrew Congregation.

“Let us now seek consolation and hope in prayer for the souls and sacred memory of those who have died, for all those who are suffering still, and the healing of our grief-stricken hearts,” said Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

“Above all, we pray [for]a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land. All this we ask in the name of your son, the prince of peace. Amen,” concluded Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith.

The strike that killed the workers came hours after Israeli troops ended a two-week raid on Shifa Hospital.

Aid volunteers in the Gaza Strip have been working desperately to provide aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who’ve had their access to food heavily cut for months due to Israeli blockades established following the Hamas Oct. 7, 2023 attack.

As for the volunteers, the challenge of supporting those in the Gaza Strip has become a risky affair. Roughly 200 aid workers have died so far.

The Israeli military said it was conducting a review “to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

For more information on the victims, go here.

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