A Shabbat table for 200, complete with linens, china and glass but devoid of people. The eerie memorial, which is geared to resemble others in Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C., will be set up in front of the Brooklyn Museum in New York City on Friday afternoon to raise awareness of the more than 200 people that the Hamas terrorist organization is holding captive in the Gaza Strip.
Photos of the hostages will be placed on the chairs at the communal gathering, which will include speeches and a recitation of Tehillim (“Psalms”).
Some 24 hours later at the same site, Palestinian and anti-Israel activists plan to hold a “Flood Brooklyn for Gaza” rally, which is about a mile from the borough’s Crown Heights neighborhood, home to 770 Eastern Parkway, headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
“The more they try and silence us, the louder we will be. From across the city and around the world, across communities and national liberation struggles, united in defense of Gaza and all of Palestine, until liberation and return within our lifetime,” the organization posted on social media. “Bring flags, signs, keffiyehs and help spread the word by sharing widely.”
On Thursday, an empty Shabbat table was also set up in Times Square showing faces of the hostages on chairs. It also included a children’s table. The installation was put up by the Israeli-American Council, with other Jewish organizations featuring relatives of hostages speaking about their plight.
‘Hurt, sad and angry’
Yaacov Behrman, a rabbi and president of the Jewish Future Alliance who lives in Crown Heights, told JNS that the New York City Police Department has assured him there will be “adequate protection.”
“We have seen in other demonstrations that the hateful rhetoric—the antisemitic rhetoric—can fuel violence, and I am concerned there will be violence on Saturday,” he said. “I know the NYPD will do their best, but I consider this rally a danger to the Jewish community—and not just to the Jewish community.”
Sam Stern, a local resident helping to organize the event at the art museum, told JNS that Friday’s event is intended to be a “peaceful, unifying program to bring people together to show that we care about innocent victims that are being held hostage.”
“People are frustrated, hurt, sad and angry,” he said. “There’s just a lot of noise coming from people on the other side. We need as many people as possible to come out and show their support.”
“To me, this is the second war of independence for Israel,” he told JNS, adding that there is “an existential threat to the entire Jewish nation.”
According to the NYPD, since Oct. 7 and the attacks by Hamas on Israel, some 70,000 people have taken part in 110 protests in New York, with 220 arrests made—mostly summonses for disobedience.