United for Israel was held virtually through the Paso Robles Chabad website
NORTH COUNTY — The North County’s Jewish community and supporters of Israel showed up for a prayer gathering called United for Israel that Rabbi Meir Gordon hosted on behalf of the Chabad of Paso Robles. The gathering was held virtually on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 12, just days after the terror attack that took the lives of over 1,000 Israeli civilians and has left almost 200 Jewish hostages being held prisoner by Hamas.
“We find ourselves this week in a time of great darkness and pain. We’re here to grieve for close to the 1,500 victims whose lives were brutally taken the past few days and to pray that God shall avenge their blood,” stated Rabbi Gordon at the beginning of the gathering. “We pray the hostages are immediately redeemed, and the wounded have a complete and speedy recovery. We pray that our soldiers succeed in their heroic and holy work and they all come home safely. We pray for the safety, security, and well-being of all our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land during this terrible war and forever.”
Hamas’s attack on Israel started in the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7, during one of the holidays on the Jewish calendar, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah — which translates to “joy of Torah.” The holiday takes place after the seven days of the Festival of Booth, Sukkot, and is essentially a holiday that symbolizes the public assertion of Jewish identity.
“It’s clear to all that this is a war against evil, and although we may be physically distant from the battle raging in Israel, we’re all called upon to participate in the spiritual battle against evil by increasing in acts of goodness and kindness,” Gordon said.
The 40-minute program included Torah study, prayer, and charity elements, with Gordon leading the community members attending in prayers from Psalm 20, 120, 121, 122, 123, and 150. Earlier, the rabbi also led everyone in reciting the six words that the Jewish population recites daily: Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one, in honor of those who couldn’t in their last moments.
Gordon commented on how Hamas not only killed close to 1,500 but filmed their acts to instill terror and fear in the hearts of Jews and their friends worldwide. He suggested not watching any of the videos because they weren’t made for us to be able to handle, and it furthers Hamas’s propaganda.
“In times like this, silence is an act that allows them to control the narrative. If we are not okay with what is going on, it’s important that we speak up and that we correct the narrative in support of the troops, in support of the good, the light, and love,” added Gordon.
Dignitaries from both Paso Robles and Atascadero attended United for Israel on Thursday, including Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno and City Councilmember Charles Bourbeau. Paso Robles City Councilmember Chris Bausch was also in attendance. Many local city organizations sent statements of solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
“I, along with the men and women of the Paso Robles Police Department, send our condolences to the victims and their families of the horrific terror attacks,” said Paso Robles Police Chief Damian Nord. “The Paso Robles Police Department wants to ensure you that our mission does not waver. We will protect and serve every member of this community. Know that your safety and security, and the safety and security of everyone around you, is our priority as law enforcement professionals.”
The Paso Robles City Council released a statement: “It is deeply distressing to see the recent events unfolding in the Middle East. The attacks from Hamas on Israel have disregarded years of work and compromise to achieve peace and stability between the Palestinian and Israeli people. Violence only begets more violence, leading to a cycle of devastation that affects innocent lives on both sides.
“We strongly condemn these intolerable, savage acts of violence committed by Hamas against Israel. We support Israel’s right to defend its people from these vicious attacks and to remove further threats to their safety. Respect for human rights, international law, and the sanctity of human life should always prevail over conflict and discord.
“We hope and pray for a time in the near future that a dialogue and commitment to finding a just and lasting solution between these two societies can return to the region,” stated the Paso Robles City Council.
Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno also commented on the attacks.
“My family and I watched in horror as the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel unfolded this past week. In these dark moments of history, it is so important that communities come together to condemn violence and stand in solidarity with victims,” she said. “I also want to personally thank community members who demonstrated their support for Israel by participating in the virtual prayer gathering with the Chabad of Paso. It is through such moments of collective prayer and solidarity that we reaffirm our commitment to peace, understanding, and our shared values that bind us together.”
The Chabad of Paso Robles is working together with a conglomeration of Chabads throughout Israel to raise funds to support families of the victims, families of the injured, as well as all the displaced Israelis, and helping soldiers on the front lines of the war. You can donate at chabadpaso.com/helpisrael.