Many in the Los Angeles Jewish community, along with some local leaders, came together Sunday night at Stephen Wise Temple in Bel Air to pray for peace after the deadly surprise attack in Israel by Hamas fighters that wounded thousands and led to the deaths of more than 1,100 people, including United States citizens.
“We’re gathering for support, we’re gathering to raise funds and we’re gathering to demand the rest of the world show solidarity with the people in the state of Israel,” Rabbi Noah Farks, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told KTLA’s Carlos Saucedo.
Israel formally declared war and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas on Sunday, prompting those at the temple this evening to pray for the lives already lost and for those held captive in a war that is likely to drag out.
“I’m not Jewish, but I’m here in support of Israel. I’m a pro-Israel activist and I’m devastated and heartbroken and it was important for me to be here tonight,” Wendy Bruget said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the department has increased its patrols and presence at religious sites around the county.
“We’re out here, we’re paying attention. We’re going to have a lot of visible presence around other Jewish facilities and mosques as well. We’re looking at all sites,” he said. “We don’t want any violence.”
Earlier Sunday, many Israeli supporters gathered outside the federal building in Westwood to let their voices be heard.
“I would like Hamas to be destroyed completely,” a man who attended that gathering told KTLA.
More than a half million Jewish people live in L.A., many with close ties to friends and family dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
“Friends of ours have been murdered, a friend was murdered by a grenade with his kids next to him,” a woman outside the federal building said. “I mean, it’s really hard to describe what’s going on there.”
Here in Los Angeles, many in the Jewish community are holding fundraisers to help with the humanitarian efforts on the ground.