Local Jewish community members hold vigil, fast in support of Gaza

CHICAGO — Members of the Jewish community who participated in a candlelight vigil on Saturday night say they want members of the Palestinian-American community to know that they support them and will do what they can to help thousands of people suffering in Gaza.

With candles in hand and lights spelling out “Free Gaza,” local Jewish leaders and members of the faith, along with individuals from other religions, gathered to voice the message that they stand with Gaza.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll has reached 4,385, with more than 13,000 people wounded. Over 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial Oct. 7 attack when Hamas militants stormed into Israel, and in response, the Israeli government cut off electricity, fuel and food to Gaza.

“Right now, nothing is being done, no one is stopping Israel, no one is holding Israel to account,” Rabbi Brant Rosen, from Tzedek Chicago, said.

Rosen, who leads Congregation Tzedek Chicago, is also the co-founder of the Jewish Fast for Gaza, which has been initiated on and off during attacks on Gaza over the years. He said he is re-igniting the fast during the current war.

“We’re going to call for a weekly fast while this is going on until there is a ceasefire and then we will continue fasting on a monthly basis until the blockade is lifted,” Rosen said.

On Saturday, the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza was opened to let some desperately needed aid into Gaza. It is the first aid allowed in since Israel sealed Gaza off in the wake of war two weeks ago.

In an effort to help, Rabbi Rosen is asking those fasting to donate the money they would spend on food, to organizations helping with relief efforts.

“We have no illusions that relief aid is going to make a difference imminently, but what we can do is take to the streets, we can go public, we can make demands of our representatives in Congress,” Rosen said.

Rabbi Rosen and others who participated in Saturday’s vigil say they are also calling for a ceasefire.

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