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Jewish students hold vigil at University of Michigan as violence continues in Israel, Gaza

Jewish students at vigil for Israel
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Jewish students and supporters at a vigil for Israel after Hamas incursion leads to deaths of hundreds, in Israel and Palestine

Hundreds of Jewish students and supporters gathered for a vigil on the Diag of the University of Michigan Monday night, seeking shared comfort as they grieved losses in Israel caused by a Hamas-led attack over the weekend. The incursion has caused the bloodiest episode in 50 years of conflict between Palestine and Israel.

The University of Michigan has one of the highest populations of Jewish students among public universities in the United States.

Many of the students at the vigil have visited Israel and have family and friends there. So the attack by Hamas and its killing and kidnapping of Israeli citizens is a personal shock.

Alexia Steinberg said it was comforting to see so much support from fellow Jews and the university and Ann Arbor communities.

"Not being in Israel right now is something that's really hard," she said. "I have friends and family who are there, and who are going to be fighting on the front lines."

Rabbi Yitz Pierce led a prayer in Hebrew for those held in captivity, with an organizer repeating it in English. "Our God, the one who raised Joseph up from the pit, be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Send complete rescue and redemption to those held captive by the enemy."

Several students spoke about their fear for the safety of loved ones in Israel.

Organizers urged people to make charitable donations to humanitarian groups that are helping Israeli people.

The vigil concluded with the singing of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem.

Organizers had earlier advised the crowd not to engage if anyone tried to disrupt the vigil — but the peace was undisturbed.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.