GLENCOE, Ill. — As the war between Israel and Hamas continues community members in Chicagoland are coming together in a showing of solidarity.
Several prayer vigils were held Monday night and another gathering was held Tuesday morning in Glencoe. Hundreds of people came together for the community-wide solidarity event hosted by the Jewish United Fund (JUF) of Chicago.
Governor JB Pritzker addressed the crowd and condemned the actions against Israel, while calling for solidarity and prayer for impacted families and the men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces.
“Today we come together in solidarity to mourn and grieve for the victims of the horrific violence against Israel,” Pritzker said. “Prayers are called for, but they are not enough, not nearly enough. Children, students, elderly, mothers and fathers, innocents are dead and injured at the hands of Hamas.”
“We are here at a synagogue where anger seems so unwelcome, but how can we help ourselves? To anyone who thinks otherwise, let me be clear,” Pritzker said, “There are many peace-loving Palestinians, and we must honor them, but Hamas, Hamas is a terrorist organization; an army of murderers backed by Iran.”
Leaders from the Jewish community, elected officials including Pritzker, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, and representatives from the State of Israel also spoke to the crowd. They asked for support and prayers for families of the wounded and dead as well as for loved ones of the missing.
Among those in attendance, was Barrie Newman.
“My niece is scared. My nephew is crying. They’re getting prepared to go to the bomb shelter. There were just bombs in Lebanon; they’re doing checkpoints,” said Newman. “I just want you to know the level of atrocities are unthinkable.”
Newman said her sister, a Chicago-area native, and twin 7-year-old niece and nephew, also dual-citizens, are stuck in Israel near the Lebanon border, with no way to safely escape. She shared her emotional message with WGN-TV Tuesday morning immediately after she got off the phone with her loved ones.
“Please release the hostages. Please do not do these attacks on innocent civilians. Nobody deserves this. You have traumatized these children. Please stop what you’re doing. You are destroying families that have nothing to do with your cause,” Newman said. “They’re innocent seven-year-old children. They need to come back home to us. I beg anybody that can help get our people out of there.”
“We are for everybody. We don’t want any innocent people killed on either side. No innocent civilians deserve any of this,” Newman said.
As solidarity continues to pour in from around the region, family members of Natali Ranaan and her mother, Judith Tai Raanan, believe the pair may be among those taken hostage by Hamas militants.
Raanan’s father told WGN-TV that he has not heard from either of the two since Friday, Oct. 6. Deerfield High School shared a statement confirming Natali Ranaan is a class of 2023 graduate.
According to the JUF, it has already advanced $5.5 million to partners providing emergency assistance to victims in Israel. It also opened an emergency fund to help provide critical support to Israeli people and organizers said hundreds of generous donations have already been made by community members.
In light of everything happening, JUF also said its security team is working with Jewish institutions across the community to safeguard all facilities due to any potential heightened risks.
JUF said it expects additional events to be held including opportunities to also gather in the city, though none specifically were planned as of Tuesday morning.