RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — More than 100 people in Raleigh came together to show support for each other, Israel, and their loved ones who call it home, as fighting between Israel and Gaza continued for a third day.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh organized the event. Phil Brodsky, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh, said there is strength in togetherness.
“It is really important that as we all come together today, we’re sending a message of togetherness, of solidarity with Israel and Israelis right now, and our deepest prayer and hope for a quick peaceful resolution,” Brodsky said.
One of the speakers at Monday’s event was Avia Feder. He’s an Israeli living in the Triangle who served in the IDF. He said he was on a mission in Gaza nearly a decade ago and will probably be called back soon to serve.
“During the operation, some of us lost friends, some of us lost family, I personally know some people who will forever be a memory,” Feder said.
In addition to speakers from the Jewish community, rabbis led the group in prayer, and local elected officials such as Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, and Rep. Deboarah Ross (D-NC 2nd District) and Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-NC 13th District) expressed their support for Israel.
Several people who came to the event have children in Israel, including Seth and Rachel Cohen of Raleigh. Their 18-year-old son is on a year-long program in Israel.
“The hardest thing was probably last night when he had to hang up the phone about 10 times and run down to the bomb shelter, and then texted me at 3 a.m. his time that he couldn’t sleep because every rustle noise, every wind, he couldn’t tell if it was a bomb or not,” Seth Cohen said.
They said it hasn’t been easy trying to support their son from half a world away.
They’ve also been showing support for the Jewish community as a whole, but said recently they felt attacked. The Jewish Federation hosted a virtual support session over the weekend where the Cohens said a user posted swastikas and a video of Hitler in the Zoom meeting video before being stopped.
“That was like a knife in the heart,” Seth Cohen said.
Elaine Ellis of Chapel Hill said she feels helpless. Her 24-year-old daughter moved to Israel two years ago.
“She’s very anxious,” Ellis said. “They’ve been at night — the sirens go off and they have to take shelter in the stairwell of their building.”
The conflict is also impacting students at local colleges who are studying abroad. A spokesperson for Duke University tells CBS 17 Duke has accounted for about two dozen students and staff in the region, saying some were able to leave today.
“Duke has made International S.O.S. and the U.S. Embassy aware,” said Frank Tramble, VP of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at Duke. “The area has been added to the Duke Restricted Regions List, which prohibits Duke-supported travel to areas of concern. On campus, resources have been shared with students and others in the Duke community who are worried about loved ones or need support for any reason.”