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Solidarity Event for Israel Hosted by the Naples Jewish Federation

A whole lot gathered in Naples Tuesday night to point out solidarity for Israel, which is currently engaged in a war with Hamas following a surprise attack by the armed Palestinian group last weekend. The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples organized the gathering on the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center and its headquarters on Pine Ridge Road. Members of all six congregations, spanning from Bonita Springs to Marco Island, were present, together with a Christian pastor and a representative of U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. Letters of support from Scott and other elected officials were read by Federation CEO Jeffrey Feld. In an interview before the event, Rabbi Adam Miller of Temple Shalom in Naples expressed the devastation and shock felt by the Jewish community in response to the attack.

The surprise attack by Hamas involved crossing the border into several towns in Southern Israel, kidnapping and killing over 1,000 Israelis, including 14 Americans, in line with USA Today Network. Hamas now holds at the least 150 hostages, including some U.S. residents, of their primary power base in Gaza. In response, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) swiftly launched a war against Hamas. On Tuesday, Israel intensified its assault on Gaza, with increased rocket attacks and a tightened blockade on essential supplies. IDF announced that they regained control over the border with the Gaza Strip early Tuesday.

Throughout the gathering, Rabbi Miller condemned the “crimes against humanity” committed by Hamas and called for justice. He assured the attendees that the IDF would bring forth a reckoning, with lots of of hundreds already called back into the reserves or volunteering to defend their homeland. Rabbi Ariel Boxman of Temple Shalom shared the tragic lack of a friend, Ofir Liebstein, who was killed within the attack. Liebstein, the mayor of Negev, was a guide for Boxman and a bunch of rabbis from Southwest Florida just a number of months prior.

Boxman recounted Liebstein’s bravery in attempting to stop the attackers before he was murdered. Many audience members had family and friends in Israel, and their personal connections to the violence were widely shared. Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad Jewish Center of Naples called on the attendees to recollect the importance of the phrase “never again” and to take care of their collective anger, courage, strength, and resolve in supporting Israel during these difficult times. Pastor Grant Thigpen of Recent Hope Ministries in Naples expressed Christian support for Israel and emphasized the spiritual bond between Christians and Jews.

To conclude the event, CEO Jeffrey Feld expressed his profound gratitude to everyone in attendance for his or her solidarity and support. The gathering aimed to point out unwavering support for Israel and condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also expressed his solidarity with Israel and ordered flags to fly at half-staff as a mark of respect. The situation in Israel continues to unfold, and plenty of individuals and organizations are standing united of their support for Israel during these difficult times.

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