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Israeli, Jewish community joined by supporters in solemn vigil

Posted at 9:49 PM, Oct 10, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday night, Utah's Jewish and Israeli communities and supporters stood in solidarity on the front patio of Congregation Kol Ami to mourn the thousands of lives lost in the Hamas attack on Israel.

"Innocent people who aren't soldiers could be just taken away from this world are being held against their will and a lot of them don't know where they are. This feels different," said Gabrielle Larsen, a local Israeli who served her country years ago.

Zoe Wood, another local Israeli, says when she first saw the news from Israel, she didn't believe it was real.

"As the time passing by, we understand the massive, massive, massive slaughter, human slaughter that happened there. It's beyond comprehension," Wood said. 

Both Larsen and Wood have spent the last few days praying for peace in their home country. Tuesday night, they were joined by dozens in prayer, song, and loving support to help mend those broken hearts.

"It's more than knowing singing — it's knowing one another, it's knowing you have a community you can rely on. Even if you don't know the person standing next to you, you can rely on them," Wood said.

Rabbi Sam Spector says the past few days have been a whirlwind for the Israeli and Jewish communities, but the support they've seen since Saturday has shown them they are not alone

"We're all here together for freedom and for peace, and there's no amount of terrorism or violence that's going to scare us or stop us from that," said Rock Larsen, Gabrielle Larsen's husband.

State and local leaders like Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall attended in solidarity. Members of the Israeli and Jewish communities took the podium, pleading leaders and supporters to not let their communities face this heartache alone. 

"This is a concern to anyone who cares about human rights," said one podium speaker. "I'm asking you this as a big sister who wants to hug her little sister in fear and take some of her pain away. I'm asking you this as a daughter who wishes she could relieve her parents of unimaginable concern."

Another event called Utah Stands with Israel is scheduled to take place Wednesday at the Capitol. Gov. Spencer Cox is expected to be in attendance.