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Thousands of U.S. mourners grapple with losing those killed in Israel and Gaza

Hundreds of people gathered at the synagogue of the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., to show support for the victims of the surprise Hamas attack in southern Israel over the weekend.
Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
Hundreds of people gathered at the synagogue of the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., to show support for the victims of the surprise Hamas attack in southern Israel over the weekend.

More than4,200 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed in the past 10 days since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

Thousands of people across the United States are attending vigils to commemorate the civilians killed from the ongoing conflict.

Earlier last week, hundreds of people gathered in Washington, D.C., to show support for the victims of the Hamas attacks.

People gathered outside the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., to show support for the victims of the surprise Hamas attack in southern Israel.
/ Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
/
Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
People gathered outside the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., to show support for the victims of the surprise Hamas attack in southern Israel.

People wrapped around the block as they waited in line to attend the vigil that was held at the synagogue of the Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park.

Susie Weinrauch said she didn't mind the wait.

"I don't like lines, but I think this is a great cause and I'm glad they're doing it and wherever I can show support, I will" Weinrauch said.

Yosh Halberstein felt similarly, sharing that "the minimum that I could do is just show up and show solidarity."

People lined up around the block to attend the vigil that was held at the synagogue of the Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park.
/ Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
/
Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
People lined up around the block to attend the vigil that was held at the synagogue of the Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park.

Many of the attendees were grappling with mourning the lives lost and the ongoing violence.

"It's hard because it just feels like it's not gonna stop for a while and after a while I just kind of go numb," said Matthew Gever.

Miguel Tablo, who has family in Israel, said his initial reaction after hearing that Hamas militants were attacking Israel was one of "profound sadness for the events and anger because we find ourselves again here after all this time with needless loss of life for absolutely no reason."

The vigil was organized by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the JCRC of Greater Washington, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser attended the congregation and spoke along with other leaders of the Jewish community. She reaffirmed her support for "the Jewish community in DC, in Israel, and around the world."

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reaffirmed her support for "the Jewish community in DC, in Israel, and around the world," at a vigil in Cleveland Park.
/ Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
/
Elizabeth Gillis/NPR
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reaffirmed her support for "the Jewish community in DC, in Israel, and around the world," at a vigil in Cleveland Park.

Among the attendees was Hunter Benson, who is converting to Judaism. She's visited the synagogue multiple times prior to the vigil and expressed her desire to show support for her community.

"I feel that I am compelled to support the community right now. Always, but specifically ,– with what's going on in Israel and just for the loss of humanity that's happening over there right now," Benson said.

While other members of the community came to comfort one another.

"I'm seeing terrible reports of just barbaric acts and, needed to be around the community tonight for, for some support," said Samantha Goldstein.

As the violence in Palestine and Israel escalates, people are coming together to stand in solidarity.

Last week, New Yorkers in Washington Square Park honored and mourned both Israeli and Palestinian lives that have been lost. Several hundred Harvard students attended a silent vigil on October 12 to express solidarity with Palenstine and mourn the deaths of civilians in Gaza and Israel. While thousands came together across LA county for vigils to support the people of Isreal and Palestine — including those held at UC San Diego and Westwood.

Adam Shaukat, who is both Muslim and Jewish, attended the Washington Square Park vigil.

He has family and friends in Israel and Gaza.

"I've woken up to some really violent stories of friends of friends being kidnapped and murdered and hiding behind their friends bodies to survive fire fights and it's just really horrible," Shaukat told NY1.

The devastating news reminded Shaukat to "be slow, be soft, be gentle and hug your loved ones."

The radio version of this story was produced by Paige Waterhouse and Iman Maani and edited by Jan Johnson.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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