SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Communities across the area continue to come together supporting each other, while also in solidarity with Israel. City leaders and neighbors united in Salem Tuesday evening for a prayer vigil.
“This is the most Jews that have died in a single day since the Holocaust,” Rabbi Avrohom Perlstein told the room full of attendees.
From teachings of the Torah to prayers and stories, the prayer vigil at Salem’s Chabad Center for Jewish Life served as a space for grief and healing.
“Tonight, really, first and foremost, is to lean on each other, be here, show up in solidarity. Secondly is an opportunity for people to come to terms with grief, with the sadness that they’re dealing with,” Perlstein said.
Rabbi Perlstein said many in the local Jewish community have spent the past few days worried about family members’ safety in Israel, while others have seen family members drafted into the army and heading to the front lines.
“The hardship is that the Jewish community is one big family, so an attack on one Jew is felt by everybody. History has taught us that,” Perlstein said. “And an attack on over 1000 Jews killed is devastating. It’s very hard.”
Even Salem city leaders stepped up to show their support to the Jewish community.
“Salem stands for peace so I think that it’s so important now to try to work together and just know that we can lift each other up when we know we’re all hurting,” Salem City Councilor Trevor Phillips said.
While condemning the attacks by Hamas militants, many are also recognizing the devastation as civilians on both sides have lost their lives since the conflict began.
“There doesn’t have to be a conflict. Innocent lives, taking innocent lives, is wrong. If they are truly innocent, it is wrong. It’s not OK. Unfortunately, war is very ugly,” Perlstein said.
Despite the tragedies, Perlstein said the community remains strong and united.
“We’re not going to be stopped in our tracks, we’re going to continue to share a message of hope and continue to share a message of peace, continue to extend our hand to neighbors in peace, continue to be a light to others, continue to be the good people that we are. And no terrorist is going to take that away from us,” Perlstein said.
Demonstrations in the wake of the attacks will continue this week. Those supporting Palestinians are expected to hold a solidarity rally in downtown Portland Friday afternoon.