Israel-Gaza war live updates: Israel wrests towns from Hamas fighters and moves to control border

The deadly attacks and kidnappings in Israel this weekend shocked Jews across the United States, prompting heightened security at American synagogues, the cancellation of some holiday celebrations and concern for relatives and more violence. There was a feeling of fear and helplessness amidst the concerns of

The brutal Hamas attack, which killed more than 900 Israelis and prompted retaliatory attacks that killed nearly 700 Palestinians, came amid a troubling wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks in the United States and internationally, which has The houses and Jewish institutions have been put on the sidelines.

“You have a lot of broken souls walking around right now,” said Jonathan Celestino, 26, an employee at the Bernard Harwich Jewish Community Center in Chicago, because so many people are hurt, scared and worried.

The small but diverse Jewish community in America — about 7.5 million in 2020, or 2.4 percent of the U.S. population — has long been polarized over how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent months, American Jews have also been divided over pressure from the far-right Israeli government to limit judicial authority.

But many Jewish leaders said that Hamas’s targeted killings of hundreds of civilians and threats to kill hostages had brought a sense of unity, at least for now.

At Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform synagogue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Rabbi Rachel Timoner has long criticized the Israeli government and its occupation of the Palestinian territories. A few weeks ago, he recalled in an interview Monday, he gave a Rosh Hashanah sermon that defined loyalty to Israel as “standing with Israelis against this regime.” He gave a standing ovation.

But an hour before another sermon was to be delivered on Saturday morning, there were reports of an attack by Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls Gaza. She quickly understood, in the midst of her horror, what his message must be.

“Now is the time to stand with Israel and Israelis without discrimination,” he told his gathering, “and to tell our Israeli families that we grieve with them, and we are now praying that Israel and Hamas defeat”.

Rabbi Moti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad, a global network of strictly observant Jewish congregations, said he was celebrating the Jewish Simhit Torah holiday in Brooklyn on Saturday with pilgrims from Israel — Some of whom had to go home and report for military duty. attacks

He said it was a time for Jews to “double down on being Jewish,” and say prayers and light candles for Israel.

The prayer was a response across the country, including at a vigil Monday evening in Providence, RI, where Stephanie Hague, chief policy officer of the Jewish Coalition of Greater Rhode Island, said it was a small way to show support for Israel. Is.

For many Jews, the anxiety of the attacks was compounded by connections to friends, relatives or colleagues in Israel, some still missing or missing on…Erinka Hromotska for The New York Times

“It feels like there’s only one thing we can do,” he said. “Looks like we’re a long way off.”

In Los Angeles on Sunday night, a vigil drew about 2,000 people to the Stephen Wise Temple, where attendees grabbed each other’s shoulders, hugged and swayed to music in the cavernous synagogue. Applause broke out as speakers reminded them to stay strong and support Israel, including financially.

As evening fell, a handful of attendees draped themselves in the Israeli flag.

“The people here, they want to help,” said retiree Miriam Zalotolo, 78, who immigrated to the United States at age 21 from Israel. “They want to draw strength from each other.”

For many Jews, connections with friends, relatives or colleagues in Israel added to the anxiety, with some still missing or missing on Monday.

Rabbi David Volpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, described watching the news obsessively in recent days while keeping in constant contact with friends in Israel. “I know people whose children have been mobilized and who have spent nights in safe houses, who have lost friends or whose friends have been kidnapped,” he said.

Like others, she said she fears what will happen next, and that the numbers are likely to rise. “As a human being, and as a rabbi, the last thing I want to see is innocent people dying for the decisions of their leaders,” he said.

At Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., a school founded by American Jews, the mood was serious Monday, said university president Ronald Leibovitz, who spent part of the day walking the campus and talking to students. Many mourned on behalf of renowned emeritus professor Ilan Troon, whose daughter and son-in-law were killed in the attack while protecting their 16-year-old son, who survived.

As he prepares for the possibility of heightened tensions between campus groups that hold opposing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Leibovitz said he feels that normal discussions on campus have been put on hold.

“Politics, at least here, has been put aside for now,” he said.

Anna Bates Cooperation reporting.

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