Solidarity gatherings in Calgary and Edmonton respond to the Hamas terror attacks in Israel

Temple Beth Ora Rabbah Gila Caine was one of speakers at the Solidarity Gathering held in Edmonton on Oct. 9. Photo by Tammy Vineberg.

(AJNews) – In response to unprecedented acts of terror in Israel by the Iran-backed terrorist entity Hamas, coinciding with the Sabbath and the holy days of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, all Jewish federations across Canada, Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), released the following joint statement:

“Since early Saturday, the people of Israel were subjected to the worst series of terror attacks in the country’s history – an unequivocal declaration of war by Iran-backed terror group Hamas against the people of Israel. Terrorists have indiscriminately murdered more than 800 innocent women, children, and men. More than 2,300 have been wounded, and many Israelis are missing and still unaccounted for, with an untold number taken hostage. The situation in Israel cannot be overstated: this is an unprovoked, unprecedented attack on the very existence of Israel, based on an antisemitic ideology with the singular focus of erasing the world’s only Jewish state from the map.

“The acts of depravity in evidence, including shooting seniors at point-blank range, hunting down young people running for their lives at a peace concert, celebrating human mutilation, and violently taking hostages to Gaza, shock the conscience of all Canadians who value human rights.

“Jews in our wonderful country are proud Canadians with a deep connection – central to our identity – to the land and people of Israel, with our roots tracing back more than 3,000 years. Canadian Jews have family and friends living and visiting Israel, including victims of these attacks. An attack on Israel is felt acutely by Jews across the world, especially here in Canada. Those murdered include Alex Look z”l, a Montrealer who was gunned down in cold blood in the Negev Desert while saving the lives of others. Two Canadians were abducted, and we pray for their safe return home to their families.

“Neither Canada nor any country in the world would allow such a mass terror event to go without a serious response to address the threat and protect their citizens. As representatives of Canada’s organized Jewish community, we say, clearly and loudly: We stand with Israel. We call on our fellow Canadians to do the same and are heartened by the response so far.”

“At a time like this, standing in solidarity with Canadian Jews is vital. Jewish federations across Canada are organizing unity rallies and vigils for the people of Israel and encouraging all to attend.”

In Edmonton and Calgary Solidarity Gatherings were held on Monday October 9 at Beth Israel Synagogue in Edmonton and Beth Tzedec in Calgary. These gatherings were somber events that emphasized community unity, concern and grieving. They were very well attended and included painful descriptions of the violence, and prayers for the victims and their families. There were expressions of solidarity and assurances from the local police that extra security measures will be implemented to ensure the safety of all community members and institutions in both cities.

In Calgary, over 1,000 community members and allies gathered together in solidarity for Israel at Calgary Beth Tzedec Congregation. “As we navigate these turbulent times, the support of government officials MP Shuv Majumdar, Minister Tanya Fir, MLA Diana Batten, Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and Calgary Police Service sent the important message that Jewish Calgary does not stand alone,” stated Calgary Jewish Federation on Meta.  “Thank you for your unwavering commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish community. Todah Rabah to our community agencies and partners for spreading the word about this important event.”

In Edmonton, over 500 community members and allies gathered together in solidarity for Israel at Beth Israel Congregation. The gathering was primarily a time for prayer and unity among community members and agencies. It was not political in nature and although some dignitaries were in attendance, they were not invited to address the crowd. Their presence sent a message of solidarity with the community. “Tonight we gathered as a community at Beth Israel to show unwavering support for Israel. Thank you to all who attended, including rabbis, politicians, dignitaries, and Edmonton Police Service chief of police,” stated Jewish Federation of Edmonton on Meta. 

Although we are small communities and located far from Israel,  we each have a personal connection to Israel. Everyone in attendance was horrified about the Hamas attack, on a human level and also on a very personal level – our families, our friends are directly suffering and are in danger. There were a lot of hugs and words of support – a feeling like we are in this together. 

The joint statement from UIA and CIJA continued: “That, however, is just the beginning of this mobilization. Emergency fundraising campaigns by our Canadian Jewish federations are now underway because this is not just an Israeli issue. This was an attack on the Jewish people, on peace, on innocence, and on the shared values between Canadians and Israelis. There are thousands of victims of terror needing help, and we are committed to using all available resources to help the people of Israel during this devastating time.

“Let us be abundantly clear – this is a war started by terrorists bent on killing and torturing innocent Israeli civilians with a goal to destroy Israel. Terrorists will not prevail.

“We pray for the safety of Israelis. May the memory of those whose lives have been lost, be for a blessing.

“Am Yisrael Chai – The people of Israel live.”

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