Unoccupied Shabbat table represents hostages in Israel during New Jersey rally

Crystal Cranmore Image
Saturday, October 28, 2023
NJ community holds vigil for hostages in Middle East crisis
Crystal Cranmore is live in Tenafly where a vigil for hostages is being held.

TENAFLY, New Jersey (WABC) -- There were prayers on Friday for the safe return home of those kidnapped by Hamas. A powerful symbol - an unoccupied table, represented the hostages who are not able to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath with their families.

"It's really hard, we are broken," said Adi Levy.

229 empty seats lined the table for a feast in Tenafly. Among the vacant seats - high chairs - a representation of children who were taken captive by Hamas.

One of the hostages is Edan Alexander, 19, who is a graduate of Tenafly High School and the son of Israeli parents. He was serving In the Israeli Army near Gaza when the attack happened on October 7.

The families of the missing were surrounded by love and light as hundreds ushered in Shabbat, praying for the hostages' safe return. The Jewish day of rest is celebrated each week from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday.

"Trying to raise awareness...this isn't over," said organizer Daphna Arad.

U.S. officials have urged Israel to delay a ground invasion to give time for hostage negotiations.

Meanwhile, Israeli leaders said it sent tanks into the Gaza Strip on Thursday night in preparation for the next stages of combat.

"Whatever it takes to destroy the terrorist organization is legit and is right," said community member Orly Chen.

Eshley Omer is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces.

"If I was here by myself - without kids, I would've been there already," said Omer.

For now, Omer says he is spreading awareness is the least he can do - to help reunite the kidnapped with their families.

"I think of my kids and how lucky I am," says Omer.

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