On Monday night, dozens gathered at the Chabad of Pasadena to worship in solidarity, showing their support for Israel after the recent attacks by Hamas over the weekend.
Families came from all over the San Gabriel Valley as Rabbi Chaim Hanoka led an evening of prayer, filled with songs for Israel, following a declaration of war against Hamas over the weekend by Israel.
Echoes of prayer channeled across the dimly lit synagogue, uniting together to pray for the Israel Defense Forces.
“We did it out of necessity,” Rabbi Hanoka said. “God needs to hear our voices. That’s what it boils down to…it’s specifically through solidarity, unifying people together that we are going to be able to bring peace.”
The service lasted for about an hour, concluding with a video prayer for the Israeli Defense Forces and Rabbi Hanoka urged to wish a million “mitzvahs” for Israel, or good deeds, by Friday, as a sign-up form with a QR code as passed out to attendees.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, there are roughly 30,000–40,000 Jewish people in the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles is home to the second largest population in the United States.
“We, outside of Israel,” Rabbi Hanoka said, “need to do something proactive other than sit at home and look at the horrible images in the media. That is why proactively praying to God, adding acts of goodness and kindness…thus, spiritually assisting the young men and women who are physically fighting the war in Israel. I have no doubt the success will be met.”
Rabbi Hanoka mentioned the strong connection to Israel was obvious, stating he, and others, have known someone who’s gone to war or has been affected by it.
Much like Mickey Butnik, an Altadena resident who made the journey down to the service.
Thousands of miles away, Butnik mentioned he’s checked on countless friends in Israel, worrying if they’re safe, away from the missile strikes and devastation rocking the two states.
“I feel how vulnerable Israel can be at times,” Butnik said. “How threatened the Jewish people can be and the hatred of Jewish people still can be in such a terrible form…almost every Jewish person I know has been affected by it personally.”
Over 150 Israeli hostages remain in Hamas’ captivity, threatening to execute them if Israel retaliates without warning, according to Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan.
According to the Israel Defense Forces’ Army Radio, more than 1,000 people have died in Israel and 830 people have died in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, adding to the brutal conflict that’s been erupting for decades.
“I think that there’s going to be horrible things coming about,” Butnik said. “There’s going to be a long path to have this current situation resolved. That’s the fear.”
Butnik, on his way out, provided some final thoughts.
“After walking out of here,” he said. “If all the world leaders could out and verbally condemn, in the strongest possible way, this terrorist action and all recognize it as terrorism of the most horrific and barbaric nature, I think it would go a long way towards helping the world to understand what has happened and what’s going on in the Middle East.”