Several hundred people attended vigils at synagogues in Palm Beach County on Sunday after Israel declared war against Hamas, which is a militant group governing the Gaza Strip and is considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
Many attendees said they felt connected to Israel due to their faith, past visits to the country or having loved ones in the country.
According to video from Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, a few hundred people came to a service on Sunday. About 300 people came to an event at Temple Beth Am in Jupiter on Sunday, which also was sponsored by Temple Beth David and Temple Judea, both in Palm Beach Gardens. And Temple Beth Torah in Wellington had about 50 people show up to their event to support Israel on Sunday.
Jen Boss, who was at the event in Jupiter, said she was shocked when she heard about the attack on Saturday. She said she’s concerned for friends in the country and a family friend, who is currently fighting in the army.
“Seeing all of the innocent people, who have been murdered or kidnapped or completely helpless, just feels brutal,” Boss said.
She said the service and a sense of community gave her some comfort about the situation.
Rabbi Andrew Rosenkranz, who leads the Temple Beth Torah congregation, said the attack came close to their celebration of Simchat Torah. He said the holiday is normally a celebration for finishing and restarting the Torah, but it was difficult to balance the attack with a celebration.
“Theres such a level of anxiety,” Rosenkranz said. “I cant even describe it. Its just hard to put into words.
He said he’s spoken with members of his congregation, who have family in Israel and haven’t heard from their loved ones. Rosenkranz said he can’t stop following the news.
My heart sank and my heart is still in my stomach,” he said. “I havent been able to concentrate on anything else. The news is on in the car. Its on at home.
The South Florida Muslim Federation said it opposes the violence and terrorizing of civilians on both sides. It said 2023 had been one of the deadliest years for Palestinians killed by Israel before the war began this past weekend.
“The lack of progress towards addressing the root cause – the ongoing occupation and subjugation of Palestinian people, has only led to suffering and misery,” The South Florida Muslim Federation said in a news release.