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In Mount Vernon, a call for a Middle East ceasefire

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Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-30 23:33:57-04

BALTIMORE — As violence in the Middle East escalates, dozens gathered near the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon to plead for a ceasefire.

"We're heartbroken. We're devastated," Rabbi Ariana Katz, with Hinenu: the Baltimore Justice Shtiebel, told WMAR. "This is a waking nightmare for our Israeli and Palestinian family and friends."

The gathering, Katz tells WMAR, is called a Mourner's Kaddish, remembering those who have died in the violence and calling for an end to it.

"I think gathering here in the rain, lighting memorial candles, is exactly evocative of how it feels to wake up every morning and worry what the news will show about how many people have died overnight," Katz added.

The gathering was organized by a group called IfNotNow, comprised of not only Jewish people, but people of other faiths as well.

"Many of us have family in Israel and family that are scared and worried; many of us are experiencing discrimination, antisemitism, Islamophobia," Myoshi Smith, a spokesperson for the group, told WMAR.

"There’s real fear and real concern and anger for our sisters and brothers, and we felt it was necessary now to mourn, to cry, to call for a ceasefire now, to end this atrocity," said Smith.

Early October terror attacks in Israel by Hamas ushered in escalating military action by the Israeli government; in particular, a ground assault in Gaza in the last few days.

Thousands of people have died in the carnage.

This week, the United Nations called for a ceasefire.

"For the Prime Minister of Israel to be only fomenting greater violence, in his many, many terms, is horrifying as a Rabbi and as a Jew," Katz continued.

The dozens in attendance were lighting candles, holding signs, and holding out hope that this all ends with peace.

"I love the Jewish people, and I am heartbroken for the ways in which our community thinks we have to ally ourselves with war, and with violence, and with killing in order to find safety and security," added Katz.