A special shabbat table was set up at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford on Nov. 17.
By Laura Barash
A group of Hartford area women, driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the situation in Israel, organized a meaningful event on Nov. 17. Taking place in the gallery at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford, they organized a ceremonial shabbat table dedicated to honoring and supporting the 240 Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
The shabbat table was set for 18 deliberately leaving each seat vacant. This symbolic gesture encouraged everyone to reflect on the emptiness, emphasizing the collective hope for the safe return of the hostages. Additionally, the number 18, or “chai” in Hebrew means life. This holds particular significance as it emphasizes the shared human value of cherishing and hoping for the safe return of the hostages.
With approximately 100 people in attendance, the event commenced with opening remarks by West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, setting the tone of unity and support. Subsequently, Nina Jacobs, a holocaust survivor, lit the shabbat candles and chanted the accompanying prayer.
Prayers for Israel, the soldiers, and the hostages were led by various community members. The Kiddish and blessing over the challah were beautifully led by children in the community, while Zoe Birman, a student at the University of Hartford, played the guitar and led the attendees in singing Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel. Closing remarks, made by Evi Shekhman, echoed the hopeful sentiments of the evening.
The event beautifully exemplified the strength of collective empathy and solidarity for our fellow humans.
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