Sarasota solidarity rally to stand with Israel

WWSB ABC7 News at 11pm
Published: Oct. 9, 2023 at 10:29 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee hosted a solidarity rally at the municipal auditorium in downtown Sarasota on Monday night. Hundreds of community members of all faiths came out to the public rally that started at 5:30 p.m.

Rabbi’s and city officials took the stage and spoke while community members comforted each other. CEO of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Shep Englander, said the message is that Israel needs support now more than ever.

“To surprise people in their homes or teenagers having a party out in nature, and to shoot them or kidnap them or rape them and burn their bodies, is something that is beyond the bounds of humanity,” said Englander.

Englander also said right now its unclear how many people are kidnapped, wounded or dead.

“This is our waiting room. We are together so we aren’t alone in the pain,” said Englander.

Omel Ventura is from Israel and volunteering on the Suncoast with the Jewish community. Ventura said his friends back home are heading to the front lines to fight in the Israeli military and his family was thankfully found after going missing a few days ago.

“I’m having a hard time you know, hard time sleeping at night. Every morning when I wake up, I’m looking on the Israeli news looking for the people that have been killed and just hoping not to find any of my family’s names over there,” said Ventura.

Maya is another volunteer who called the militant group Hamas terrorists. She said Israel has an obligation to defend itself and fight back. However, Maya said its beautiful to see the community coming together to help.

“People donating blood, people gathering supplies. It’s good to see that in times like this Israel and all our people are staying strong and helping each other. It is heartwarming,” said Maya.

City of Sarasota Mayor Kyle Battie spoke during the rally. He said every fiber in his body goes out to the families and loved ones not only in Israel, but also here on the Suncoast.