On Tuesday, community members gathered at the Katie and Irvine Khan Jewish Community Center for a vigil for the lives lost in the Israel-Hamas War.   

While they are more than ten thousand miles from Israel, the war hits close to home for many of these Jewish people.   

Josef Olmert said he recently broke down after his daughter, who lives in Tel Aviv, told him about a family she knew that was killed. He says the mother, father, and two children’s bodies were found hugging each other. “I haven’t been ready for that,” Olmert said. “You cannot be trained for that.”   

Several Jewish leaders spoke at the vigil, expressing the importance of making people aware of the violence occurring in Israel.   

Kenneth Berger, the president of Columbia’s Jewish Federation, said:   

“You don’t need hyperbole when people are being lit on fire. You don’t need hyperbole when 40 babies are being murdered. You don’t need hyperbole when women and children are being kidnapped from their homes and tortured. These are facts. These are facts that ought to be shared.”   

Rabbi Hesh Epstein made a call for action to people across the globe.   

“Now we and all those who call us their friend and all the enlightened people of the world, Jews, Christians, and Muslims must now stand up and choose the side of life or forever bare the stain of betrayal,” he said.   

As the world watches the war, Jewish leaders in Columbia say they will stick together and stand by Israel.