As Shabbat arrives Friday night, Long Islanders will be praying for peace even as Israeli forces exchange rocket fire with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
"We strongly believe that all people are made in the Divine image of God," said Rabbi David Ross Senter, spiritual leader of Plainview's Manetto Hill Jewish Center, which is adding a special "peace service" to tonight's regular Shabbat observance. "We believe that a death on any side of the border is a tragedy."
Prayers for peace will undoubtedly be a theme echoed in synagogues across Long Island tonight and tomorrow.
Tensions continue to mount in Israel, where Palestinian rockets have been fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the last 24 hours, part of a continuing escalation of violence in the war-scarred region, multiple news sources are reporting. Israeli ground forces have massed along the Gaza border, preparing for a possible invasion of its southern territory wedged against the Mediterranean Sea.
The U.S. Senate, including New York's Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and Sen. Charles Schumer, unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution Friday which strongly supports Israel's "inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism."
The entire Long Island Congressional delegation, including Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, and D-Huntington, have issued statements of support for Israel's right to defend itself.
Congressman Israel expressed his "unequivocally support of Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of unjustified attacks from Hamas and other terrorist organizations targeting innocent Israeli civilians."
At least 23 Palestinians and three Israelis have died in the barrage of rocket attacks since Wednesday, when Israeli military forces fired a missile that targeted and killed Ahmaed Jaabari, head of the military wing of the Hamas movement. That set off retaliatory rockets from Palestinian forces directed at Tel Aviv, just 45 miles to the north.
Rabbi Senter said the Israeli government has shown "a tremendous amount of restraint" in the face of more than 800 missile attacks alone in the last year by Palestinian military forces on the Israel's soil. "That restraint speaks to the values of the state of Israel," Senter said.
"We firmly believe that God does not check passports," Senter said. "We look to the day when the entire House of Abraham can live together in peace."