Solidarity and worry in the Bay Area as families await word from loved ones in Israel

Local places of worship are offering prayers as families with Bay Area ties anxiously await updates on their loved ones.

On Tuesday night, the Chabad of Almaden Jewish Community Center in San Jose held a prayer service.

Rabbi Mendel Weinfeld emphasized that the current situation in Israel is a circumstance that Jews have known all too well throughout history.

"Tonight Jews are going to come together in solidarity. We are going to come together in strength," Mendel said.

He noted that Jews worldwide share a deep bond, and gathering during times of is a source of strength and sustains faith.

"Tonight is a time when we get strength. Jewish people get together at times like this when it is hard for us. This is not our first rodeo. But God has always been with us and God will continue being with us," Mendel said.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also attended and offered encouragement to the community during these challenging times.  

"I want you to know as your mayor that our city will continue to stand for diversity, inclusion, self-expression, religious freedom, and against hate and discrimination and violence," Mahan said.  

During the vigil, there were scripture readings and traditional songs sang by members of the Jewish community. Santa Clara County D.A. Jeff Rosen spoke of his own Jewish family history and how it impacted who he is today.  

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"My dad was in three different concentration camps in Poland and was liberated from Bergen Belsen in April 1945," Rosen said.   

Rabbi Weinfeld also spoke of the challenges he says Jewish people have faced in the past and have overcome.  

"From Pharoah to Haman, to Stalin and Hitler, and now Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. They have all tried and failed because God wanted otherwise," Weinfeld said.   

One of the speakers also asked people to donate anything they can to the Israeli Defense Force or any other organization you trust will get needed help to the region. 

While prayers are offered in the Bay Area, in Israel, the family of a 23-year-old Berkeley-born man is speaking out. Hersh Goldberg-Polin was at a music festival when he lost his arm in a recent attack and was subsequently taken hostage by Hamas, his family said.


Parents say Berkeley-born son's arm blown off before being taken hostage in Israel

The parents of a Berkeley-born 23-year-old spoke publicly Tuesday in Israel hoping that their son would return home safely after his arm was blown off and he was taken hostage.

"They were fish in a barrel. Terrorists came to the door, they were shooting machine guns. We know his arm was severed," said the young man's mother, Rachel Goldberg.

Goldberg-Polin's parents also shared that eyewitnesses have recounted how their son and his friend helped others to survive in a bomb shelter.

"As grenades were being thrown in, they were tossing them back out. They were trying to comfort people," said his father, Jon Polin.

SEE ALSO: Berkeley rabbi's nephew killed in Israel

Manny Yekutiel, the owner of Manny's in the San Francisco Mission District, was near Tel Aviv for his niece's Bat Mitzvah when the attack unfolded.

"It is traumatizing. I wish this on no one. To have to rush to a bomb shelter, to watch children having to run for cover in synagogues and be protected by their parents, to be in the direct target line of a missile strike," Yekutiel said.

Rabbi Mendel expressed that he has no doubt how this war will end.

"Every nation that tried to kill us is all gone. But the Jewish people, we are strong Jewish people," the rabbi said.

KTVU's LaMonica Peters contributed to this report