Monday, December 11

Boca Raton congregation has ‘dozens and dozens’ of families struggling to escape Israel amid war, rabbi says

Tensions continue to grow in the Middle East after surprise attacks on Israel from Hamas this weekend.

Areas surrounding Israel and Gaza have turned into a warzone with the death toll continuing to climb Monday.

Meanwhile, in South Florida, members of the Jewish and Palestinian communities shared their concern for loved ones who are near the violence.

WPTV spoke to a rabbi in Boca Raton about how they’re handling the safety concerns plus how Palestinians are reacting to the attack.

“We feel directly related. We’re all related, even if we’re not closely related,” Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue. “We’re overwhelmed. We’re devastated. We’re scared. We’re afraid, and most of all we’re concerned about what’s happening there.”

Goldberg said his synagogue has members who have family in that area of the world. He said the violence robbed a weekend that was supposed to be filled with joy.

“Our congregation has dozens and dozens of families who went to Israel specifically for the holidays, many of whom are now struggling to get out, who spent the holiday in bomb shelters, running for their lives from rockets,” Goldberg said.

He said they’re now taking steps to increase security at their place of worship as the violence in Israel and Gaza continues.

The South Florida Muslim Federation had a similar message, saying they also have loved ones in the region.

They released the following statement on the war:

All life is sacred, and we uphold the right of every human to live in dignity, freedom, peace, and security. We oppose the violence and terrorizing of civilians on both sides. South Florida Muslims are gravely concerned about the unfolding crisis in Gaza, and the entire region. The year to date 2023 has been among the deadliest for Palestinians, with more than 250 Palestinians killed by Israelis prior to last week. The lack of progress toward addressing the root cause – the ongoing occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, has only led to suffering and misery. Life in the Gaza Strip – one of the most densely populated places on earth has been described as an open-air prison. We are concerned with the welfare and well-being of our brothers and sisters there. Our community has many members with family in the region, who are terrified as they don’t know what’s going to happen to their loved ones tomorrow. We are supporting efforts through our member organizations with field offices on the ground, to provide relief to the suffering families in Gaza. We ask everyone to also support us, and we pray for an end to the suffering and a future in which all people can live in freedom and safety.

Both sides of the conflict urge for the violence to cease.

“We’re confident, and we are comfortable, but we also have to be vigilant,” Goldberg said. “We always have to know where our children are, be aware of our surroundings. These are heightened times of course. While we’re confident in our local law enforcement, who always take care of us, we need to do our part, if you see something say something. That’s the message that we’re getting out.”

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