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Local Jewish community members share their feelings as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues

Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 09, 2023

Monday marks the third day of fighting since Hamas’ attack on Israel began over the weekend.

The impacts of the ongoing war are being felt by people in many cities across the U.S., including here on the Central Coast.

“When I first woke up on Saturday morning, I heard the news. I was preparing myself to go to my synagogue because it is, it was also Shabbat, but also a special holiday where it celebrates the receiving of our special book called the Torah," said Lauren Bandari, SLO Hillel Executive Director.

What is usually a day of celebration and joy quickly changed.

“From the start, it felt heavy. It felt even that much more emotional that it was on a day when we were there to be joyful and celebrate as Jews, and yet we were attacked as Jews," Bandari added.

Many in the Jewish community say they are hurting.

“I was more at a loss for words. I was like, wow, it's happened again. What to do? What can I do? How can I support the people I know? I have some family in Israel, I have friends in Israel. How can I be a resource to them?" said Cal Poly student Leah Sarles.

“I have family in Israel. My staff member who works here in San Luis Obispo is Israeli. We have dozens of Israeli students at Cal Poly who are far away from their parents and are also personally affected — have cousins and friends, whether they were sadly killed, taken hostage, or are being called from the reserves to fight now in the IDF, it is all so personally affecting us," Bandari said.

SLO Hillel and Santa Barbara Hillel offer support services to college students throughout the year and now more than ever, that support is needed

“This is a very upsetting time. Our job here is to support students and to make sure that they know that they're not alone and that they know that there are people who are there for them in this moment of great pain and sadness and, frankly, confusion as it continues to unfold," said Josh Levine, Santa Barbara Hillel Executive Director.

Support is also coming in from local law enforcement agencies.

In a statement to KSBY News, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office said, “The sheriff’s office, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies have been reaching out to local temples, synagogues, churches and places of worship to see if there is anything they need in terms of increased security. If they do, then we will be able to provide them with the resources they need to keep their communities safe.”

“Check in and let them know that you see them, you feel for them, and you're there for them. That's very powerful. There are a lot of people who are really hurting," Levine said.
There are two vigils being held at different college campuses Monday evening.

At Cal Poly, a vigil will be held at the University Union at 7 p.m.

At UC Santa Barbara, a vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. in front of Stork Tower.

Both events are open to all community members.