NASSAU COUNTY - Thousands of Jews across the tri-state region stood in solidarity Sunday night, attending rallies and vigils for the hostages still being held behind enemy lines in Gaza.
There was a sense of grief, sadness and anger in the air in Plainview. Jewish residents and allies gathered, demanding the return of the Israeli hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas terrorists.
Jewish Americans feel triggered by the violence of the Oct. 7 attack abroad and the reemergence of anti-Semitism at home, boldly being declared on college campuses, and witnessed as people rip apart posters of hostages.
The rally served as a support to each other, a call to action and a place to pray that a higher power would intervene.
"Hopefully, they know that we are doing what we can, and we’re praying for them, and I’m sure they’re praying for themselves," one attendee said.
Each empty seat represented a hostage, many who have direct ties to residents of New Jersey and New York.
"We want this to spread out to everybody, not just Montclair, New Jersey, the U.S. the entire world, with the final goal of releasing the hostages now," said Gadi Binness, of Bring them Home Montclair.
A number of politicians – globally and domestically – are pushing for a temporary pause in fighting, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there will be no humanitarian pause until all the hostages are released.
Hamas released only four hostages, including two Americans, last month, and negotiations for more releases remain unsuccessful
"I don’t know if there’s a peaceful way to end this, but the less people that get hurt, the better," one attendee said.
There are over 240 hostages being held in Gaza right now – 30 of whom are children ranging from eight months to 18 years old.