In the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, nearly 600 people filled the sanctuary and social hall at Adath Israel Congregation in a show of solidarity for Israel.
The solidarity community gathering for Israel Oct. 11 was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks at the Lawrence Township synagogue.
Civic and religious leaders from Princeton, Lawrence Township, East Windsor, West Windsor and Hightstown shared their thoughts on the attack.
Rabbi Benjamin Adler of Adath Israel Congregation said the attack was “the single most deadly attack against Jews since the Holocaust.” More than 1,200 people were killed in the span of a few hours.
“How do we respond? We find comfort in the community and being together and supporting each other. We are here to show solidarity, to mourn the dead and to send a message – the people of Israel will live,” Adler said.
Yuval Donio-Gideon of the Consulate General of Israel in New York City said the attack was “the most terrible act in Israel’s history – and possibly the most horrible, brutal act in human history.”
“Babies were killed and women were raped,” he said. “People were massacred.”
Officials are still counting the dead, which has surpassed 1,200 people. About 200 Jews were kidnapped, he said.
“Israel is a small country. The loss of 1,200 people is equal to 40,000 people murdered in one day in the United States. But it is not only the numbers, it is the brutality.
“The terrorists were literally dancing over the bodies of the people they had just murdered. The best way to describe it is pure evil.
“What do you do? You confront it, that’s what we do. Israel is at war, not a war of choice, not a war coming from vindictive emotions.
“Israel can’t allow this to happen again. This is the reason we are at war. We will win the war. Light is stronger than darkness. I am confident we will win,” Donio-Gideon said.
East Windsor Township Mayor Janice Mironov, speaking for Mercer County elected officials, said that initially she was not sure what she would say at the community gathering.
“There is so much to say, and at a time when words fail. Deep sorrow. Grief. Horror. Alarm. Fear. Anxiety. Innocent people were going about their daily lives. It is really unthinkable,” Mironov said.
“There was absolutely no justification for an attack on innocent Israeli citizens. Israel has the right to exist as a nation and to defend itself.
“It is imperative for people to stand together in solidarity and in support of Israel – regardless of religion or ethnicity or other factors. Antisemitism cannot continue anywhere on earth.
“This atrocity can never occur again. We do know this – from today, tomorrow and all days to come, we have to come together in solidarity and in support of Israel.
“Am Yisrael chai – the Jewish people live,” Mironov said.
Falguni Pandya, who is a Hindu Jewish Coalition board member and an Indian-American, said she stood in solidarity with the Jews. She offered unwavering support and commitment to Israel and the global Jewish community.
“Jews have lived in India for 2,000 years, without antisemitism or persecution,” she said. “The barbaric acts of Hamas stand in direct contradiction to the teachings of Hinduism and Judaism, which emphasize the pursuit of a just and compassionate world.
“You probably have heard about the unequivocal support of India to Israel. Let me add that Hindus all over the world are with you. We are appalled and we are pained.
“I have a friend who specializes in transgenerational trauma. He often says that the initial reaction to trauma is silence. I am glad he is wrong in this case,” Pandya said, adding she was glad that Jews are standing up and speaking up.
“The world should be united in condemning the ghastly attack that took place.”
Rabbi David Levy of the American Jewish Council said that as the crisis goes on and casualties mount, “we need to speak on behalf of Israel.”
“We are going to speak to adults. We have to remind them of how horrifying and vicious attacks were made on Israelis, not soldiers,” Levy said.
“The focus needs to be on the families, the children and the soldiers who were killed, and the people who were abducted.
“That’s where we need to take people’s attention – how they would have felt Oct. 7 if they were attacked, how any country (would respond).
“Situations can be complicated, but this is not one of them,” Levy said.