People at vigil for Israel share uncertainty, heartbreak and mutual support

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. — Hundreds of people packed Temple B’rith Kodesh Monday night in Brighton to stand in solidarity with Israel following the Hamas attacks.

Every seat was taken at Monday night’s vigil in a show of support for the Jewish community here and across the world.

Many local government leaders spoke, delivering messages of hope and unity and saying they stand with Israel.

One woman who was visiting her parent in Israel for her dad’s 75th birthday celebration had to cut that celebration short and arrived back home Sunday afternoon.

She explained she woke up to a war zone.

“I was asleep, woke up at 9 a.m. in Israel, and when I opened the phone pretty much bombarded me — all those messages and questions if I’m okay,” Dalit Spindel said.

The sounds of bombs, missiles and rockets is not something with which Spindel is unfamiliar. This was different, she explained — it was extreme and something that surprised her on Saturday morning.

She knew she had to get out as quickly as possible.

“It was a quick visit surprise visit for my dad’s 75th birthday. I barely had time to be there and pretty much flee the country to come back as my family is here, leaving my entire Israeli family back there,” Spindel said.

She had to make the difficult decision to leave her Israeli family behind and get back home to her family in Brighton.

“My kids and my husband are here so I left the country. Leaving the country and hearing sirens at the airport, so very mixed emotions about being here right now and everybody else is there. My heart is definitely broken and divided,” Spindel said.

It was important for her not only to speak at tonight’s vigil but to share her story and unite with others standing with Israel.

”For us Jewish people, Israeli people, we need this feeling of belonging, feeling of support from each other but also from the greater community of Rochester,” Spindel said.

The shock of these attacks on top of being a long distance away from family is what Dana Spungin and May Kar are struggling with. They are visiting from Israel. They say their friends came under attack by Hamas while at a music festival to celebrate the Jewish holiday Sukkot. Many of them are still missing.

“Killed and one is missing. They took him hostage into Gaza along with other people that we know from Tel Aviv. We have a lot of mutual friends, and many of them have not been found,” Kar said.

Kar explained being at the vigil is helping her and Spungin cope with what’s happening back home.

“The only way for us to help support is to be here at this beautiful vigil showing support and letting Israelis know they are not alone,” Spungin said.

There was heightened police presence at the vigil including Brighton Police, New York State Police and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

There are no confirmed threats, but state officials are monitoring the situation along with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.