Gathering at SJCC as community prays for return of kidnapped teens


Special to The Mike Report by Randy Kessler

I was not able to attend last night’s community-wide prayer service at Ezra Bessaroth, but I joined with about 100 other Jewish and non-Jewish friends of Israel at the Stroum Jewish Community Center near Seattle for another show of solidarity for the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers.

The event, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, StandWithUs, and Hope for Heroism, was brief but powerful.  Rabbi Chaim Levine, whose organization Hope for Heroism supports wounded Israeli veterans, kicked off the presentation by stating that “these types of events are going on in every Jewish community in the world”, and that Jews congregating in such numbers was “evidence of the unity of the Jewish nation.  When our enemies wish to harm us, we unite by stepping up our activity in prayer, acts of kindness, charity, and love”.  He said that “each of us has a unique contribution to make to the future of the Jewish people”, and he encouraged us to let our voices be heard.

The three mothers console one another.

The three mothers console one another.

Rabbi Levine was followed by Keith Dvorchik, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and Rob Jacobs, Regional Director of StandWithUs, helping to drive home the message that the organized Jewish community “absolutely condemns the kidnapping, and is supportive of the IDF as they aim to both rescue the hostages and weaken Hamas”. 

The afternoon event concluded with recitation of Psalms 120, 121, and 122 led by the head of the Va’ad HaRabanim of Seattle, Rabbi Moshe Kletenik.  Rabbi Simon Benzaquen followed with two prayers, “Acheinu kol beit Yisrael…” and the Prayer for the Israel Defense Forces, concluding with an emotional singing of Hatikvah.

Walking out, I heard some non-Jewish attendees talking about how the Hatikvah means so much to them.  We should continue to stay strong and united as a Jewish community, while walking hand-in-hand with people of goodwill from all faiths.

Randy Kessler describes himself as a Radically Moderate Left-Wing Conservative. He lives in the Puget Sound region and is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University (where he earned his MBA).