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Omaha Rabbi reacts to events unfolding in Israel

3 News Now spoke to Rabbi Benjamin Sharff with Temple Israel in Omaha. He has family in Israel. Sharff and his wife spent some time checking in on family in Israel.
Posted at 11:13 AM, Oct 09, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Rabbi Benjamin Sharff with Temple Israel in Omaha was preparing for a morning of services when he heard the news.

"I picked up my phone and saw the heartbreaking, heart-wrenching news that there had been a horrific attack on southern Israel," Sharff said.

Israel declared war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas after an attack on Saturday, during a major Jewish holiday. Sharff and his wife spent the day checking in on family in Israel.

"They're worried. It's a very scary time. They're also thinking about their friends," he said.

At Temple Israel, Sharff said he feels a deep connection with the people of Israel. He said hearing the news is heartbreaking.

"We started off with a prayer for the state of Israel. In our prayer of healing we extend it to all those who are suffering," he said.

Sharff said staying connected will help strengthen the community.

"It's going to be very intentional and deliberate. So that way when we gather together to pray, we gather together as people. We feel that sense of community. We feel that sense of support. We feel that sense of hope."

Most importantly, Sharff is asking not to blame or take out any violence against anyone.

"As Jews, Muslims, Christians living in the United States. We can stand together and condemn all violence. All acts of terrorism. And do not seek to harm anyone here. They are not responsible. We are people who stand together and pray and work for a peaceful resolution for a better day," he said.

In a statement, the Jewish Federation of Omaha said in part... "The Jewish Federation of Omaha stands shoulder to shoulder with the State of Israel. We pray for our families and friends in Israel, and for the safety of Israel’s people and its security forces..."

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