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Denver's Jewish community comes together amid Hamas attack on Israel

On Monday night, Temple Emanuel Denver plans to host a vigil to pray for hundreds of lives lost
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Posted at 9:14 AM, Oct 08, 2023

DENVER — From thousands of miles away, Denver's Jewish community is coming together in a time of crisis after the attack on Israel by Hamas.

"The news...was crushing," said Dan Leshem, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council at JEWISHcolorado.

Leshem said other than his parents and siblings, his entire family is still in Israel. When he learned the news of Hamas' unprecedented attack, he said he quickly found out Israel was experiencing a "very high level of terror".

"This was something completely terrifying, and even terrifying to Israelis who have lived through so many things like this," Leshem explained.

The attack comes during one of the most joyous celebrations in the Jewish faith and nearly fifty years to the day after Israel faced another surprise attack on Yom Kippur—which Leshem said is no coincidence.

"For us, at this point, it's as traumatic I think as what 9-11 was for me, and I remember that day very carefully and very clearly. And I'm going to remember this day also with the same clarity," said Leshem.

On Monday at 7 p.m., Temple Emanuel Denver, a 2,000-household congregation, is hosting a vigil in its sanctuary to pray for the lives lost in the attacks.

"In times of crisis, we come together and we acknowledge that we are not alone. And now we are here for each other to walk us through this moment of tremendous sadness," said Elizabeth Sacks, Cantor at Temple Emanuel.

Denver's Jewish community comes together amid Hamas attack on Israel

Cantor Sacks has led several trips to Israel each year, most recently this past summer.

She said the clergy has been flooded with emails from people expressing their sadness, frustration and anger for what is happening to the Israeli people.

"Every one of us here on staff knows individuals who are currently living in the State of Israel. Many of us know individuals who have now been called to military service in order to defend the State of Israel. Some of us know people who have been wounded and taken hostage," said Sacks.

In this time of crisis, Sacks said she hopes we come together as one community.

"We hope that everyone in the state of Colorado, in our country and beyond is praying for us," she said.

If you'd like to help people in Israel, Leshem said JEWISHcolorado established a direct fund. Select "Israel Emergency Fund" to donate.

Over 1,000 killed after unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel
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