BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In the wake of tragedy ensuing thousands of miles away in Israel, many here at home are also feeling the pain.
“I am completely broken,” said Rabbi Shmuel Schlanger of Chabad of Bakersfield. “Understand that this is not a far-off event — this is an event that is close to home and close to the heart of every single Jewish person and civilized human being of the world.”
The devastating and surprising attack happened on a major Jewish holiday on Saturday — Simchat Torah — leaving hundreds dead in Israel. President of Temple Beth El, Avital Anders, was celebrating the holiday and found the news on social media from friends in Israel, and has relied on that to check on them during this time.
“Thankfully with social media, the information comes really quick, the people I personally know are all okay, but it doesn’t take away the tremendous concern and grave concern for the people that were killed, that were hurt, and particularly the hostages,” said Anders. “It just kind of reminds us of how difficult it is to be Jewish, because here we are celebrating our traditions, just being happy, being us, and then we are finding out that our brothers and sisters are being killed for being us. It’s like, here we go again.”
Anders shares that the latest attacks hit close to home, as they came 50 years and a day after the Yom Kippur War — a war Anders witnessed when she was a kid in Israel, bringing up the pain her people have endured.
“That was a surprise, that exacted an incredible toll, and it was like, well this will never happen again, and here we are,” said Anders.
Now, it is about coming together as a community and remaining in prayer during this time.
“The Jewish nation is one people, and today we are one people, no matter our differences, no matter who we are,” said Schlanger.
“I know that Israel will take care of it. I know that we’re going to persevere, and I know it’s going to work out,” said Anders. “Nothing is okay, but it’s going to resolve itself in such a way that Israel is going to be safer and certainly safe again, but it’s really painful.”
There will be a vigil Tuesday, Oct. 10 at Temple Beth El, located at 2601 Loma Linda Drive, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. to pray for the lives lost and share resources with ways to help.