Empty Chairs, Six Months: Shabbat Table for the Hostages will be on exhibit in Edmonton

by Jenna Vetsch

(AJNews) – October 7 – what was once an unremarkable day – is now a terrible stain in history marked by the attacks on southern Israel by Hamas. Six months later, the aftermath continues to reverberate throughout Israel and the world outside of its borders.

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton is organizing an empty Shabbat table installation to commemorate the hostages who are still held captive in Gaza by Hamas. The empty seats will be a stark reminder of the loved ones who have not seen the safety of their homes for months.

Located at the Alberta Legislature Grounds’ Violet King Henry Plaza, the exhibit viewing will take place this Friday, April 5 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, followed by a commemoration. The Jewish community, friends, and allies are encouraged to come together and keep those who have been killed and kidnapped in their thoughts.

Stacey Leavitt-Wright, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, was in Israel on a Canadian Coast-to-Coast Mission back in February. It was there she took time to visit the Empty Shabbat Table in Hostage Square in Tel Aviv. Having been to Israel, spoken with the families of hostages, and listened to their stories, she has been wanting to bring this visual to Edmonton for a while.

“We need to keep speaking about this. I feel [the hostages] are being dehumanized and these are real people. I think we need to remind people about that.” She went on to explain that there is tremendous grief and trauma that will impact people for years to come. “A lot of people feel abandoned, hurt, gaslit, and scared.” This is an opportunity for people to stand in solidarity with those who remain captive, their families, as well as all Israelis.

There will be a school bus with 46 available spots to transport people to and from the Legislature. The bus will leave from Beth Israel Synagogue at 4:00 pm and bring people back at 5:30 pm before Shabbat commences.

There will be security in place with the Alberta Legislature sheriffs in attendance.

Stacey senses a craving for the community to gather again, setting in motion Friday’s commemorative event. She acknowledges the emotional toll the attacks on October 7 have had on people and expresses the importance of staying connected during this heavy time.

“We ask that you take time out of your afternoon on Friday, April 5 to attend this important commemoration.”

Jenna Vetsch is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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