On Monday evening, the Israeli American Council along with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jewish Community Relations Council hosted a “Bring Them Home Now!: Hostage and Missing Families Forum” at the Boston Common, following the kidnapping of Israeli civilians by Hamas forces earlier this month.
Since the attack on Oct. 7, Israeli authorities have estimated that at least 200 hostages are being held by Hamas inside Gaza, according to NBC News.
The event was open for anyone to participate and drew hundreds of attendees that sang songs and stood together in a human chain stretching along the outside of the Common to show their support for the Israeli civilians being held hostage.
“The Hamas action of attacking civilians, of kidnapping, of murdering civilians is something that [the U.S.], a democratic nation will not accept and will not tolerate,” said Tommy Vitolo, Massachusetts State Representative of the 15th Norfolk District.
IAC New England co-chair Daniel Serfaty explained the importance of organizing the human chain.
“It’s important for the community to stick together,” Serfaty said. “They need to be together. They all are in pain. They all grieve the Jewish community, the Israeli-American community, and so to be together is already a statement, to stand up for Israel and for the injustices that we see.”
Jeff Freilich, a resident of Brookline, also shared similar sentiments regarding the Hamas kidnappings of Israeli civilians. He emphasized that the rally was about the importance of humanity and the right to live in peace from Hamas’ terrorism.
“This is not a pro-Israel [or] anti-Palestinian rally,” Freilich said “This is an anti-terror rally, this is one that believes in humanity … that people have the right to live in dignity, in peace and safe from the rockets and the reach of terrorist organizations like Hamas.”
Others expressed how the attacks have struck a personal chord for them and their families.
Vered Bar Bracha, who has family and friends living in Israel, shared how her friend’s daughter was kidnapped.
“I don’t know what happened to her so I’m here to say that I’m with her,” Bar said. “I’m crying for her with all these wonderful people, just providing some support to these grieving and aching and devastated families.”
Despite the mourning of these individuals, the event sought to provide hope for the Israelis.
“It makes me feel hopeful and I’m happy to see the Jewish and Israeli community come out, and the Boston community come out in support of the hostages,” said attendee Reuven Kitov.
Serfaty expressed the importance of community in the struggle to save the kidnapped civilians.
“We just want those civilians to be brought back home,” he said.