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Rhode Islanders gather in solidarity with Israel against Hamas violence

“This isn’t just something that’s happening across an ocean. It’s something that’s real for many folks here in Rhode Island,” said the president of the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee posted to social media in support of Israel.Screenshot via social media

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s state house was lit up blue and white Monday night, a sign of solidarity for those in Israel and around the globe impacted by the violence that erupted over the weekend from Israel-Gaza conflict.

Not far from the state house, about 600 people gathered at the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island “to mourn. To pray for peace. To pray for safety. And to just be together,” said Adam Greenman, the alliance’s president and CEO.

Saturday was a “tough day” for many members of Rhode Island’s tight-knit Jewish community.

“We have many connections with folks in Israel, so it hit me and so many of us really hard,” Greenman said, adding that many of his staff members have family in Israel, and one person’s family member was among the hundreds killed in the attacks over the weekend.

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“This isn’t just something that’s happening across an ocean. It’s something that’s real for many folks here in Rhode Island,” Greenman said.

Monday’s announcement that Israel drafted 300,000 reservists to fight “brings a whole other sense of fear and concern,” Greenman added.

Greenman said the alliance is focused on making sure members of Rhode Island’s Jewish community have the support that they need. The alliance is also organizing fund-raising efforts for the humanitarian needs coming out of the conflict, as well as for victims of the terrorist attacks.

Monday’s vigil was mainly attended by the Jewish community, with “incredible representation” from elected officials, Greenman said, including US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Representative Seth Magaziner, Governor Dan McKee, and Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, among others.

“Israel will receive everything it needs to prevail,” Reed said from the podium at Monday’s vigil. “This is the biggest threat to Israel in 50 years, and America stands with Israel.”

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“Make no mistake, such atrocities are deserving of condemnation worldwide,” McKee wrote on social media over the weekend. “During this dark hour, Susan [McKee] and I pray for the people of Israel and for our Jewish neighbors here in Rhode Island.”

Attorney General Peter Neronha released a statement late Tuesday, in which he declared, “I stand with Israel.”

“Last night, I stood with the Jewish community of Rhode Island at the prayer vigil held at the Providence Jewish Community Center,” he said in his emailed statement. “The anguish of all who were there was palpable and witnessed by so many state and federal elected officials, members of law enforcement, and faith leaders of all communities who came to show their support. To our Jewish friends and neighbors, know that you are not alone.

“The world has witnessed despicable acts of criminality, inhumanity and terror that can never be excused or justified. It goes without saying that Israel has a right to defend itself against such atrocities,” he continued.

“Here in Rhode Island, we mourn with Israel and the entire American Jewish community these terrible losses and pray for those who are injured and missing and their families. We hold those in our own community who have been so deeply affected by these events in our thoughts. Though we are heartbroken, we resolve that the forces of terror and violence will not prevail. And that peace and security will eventually come.  Until then, I stand with Israel.”

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Rhode Island’s Jewish history dates back to 1658, when the country’s second Jewish community was established in Newport. Newport is home to North America’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, consecrated in 1677. Newport’s synagogue, Touro Synagogue was completed in 1763, and it is the oldest Jewish house of worship in the US.

This article has been updated to include a statement from the Rhode Island Attorney General.


Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her @brittbowker and also on Instagram @brittbowker.