Bay Area Jewish community prepares for celebratory, yet somber Passover

Tara Campbell Image
Monday, April 22, 2024
Bay Area Jewish community prepares for Passover
As calls continue to bring the hostages home, the Bay Area Jewish community is preparing for a celebratory yet somber Passover Monday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As calls continue to bring the hostages home, the Bay Area Jewish community is preparing for a celebratory yet somber Passover Monday.

"I really hope that this holiday is what really brings us together is our humanity and compassion for each other," said Berkeley resident Yael Nidam Kirsht, who is still holding out hope Hamas will release her brother-in-law. "We are struggling, we are working, we are doing everything we can"

"It is very difficult this year knowing so many are not free," said Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham. "We're about to celebrate a festival of freedom and our brothers and sisters in Israel are actually in hostage situations."

And he says despite the weight of the October 7 attack on Israel, they will celebrate.

MORE: Calls to 'bring them home' continue for Israeli hostages 6 months after Hamas attack

"Having known many holocaust survivors - they say celebrate when you can no matter the circumstances," said Rabbi Bloom, adding people are finding ways to remember the hostages.

"Leaving an empty chair for those who can't celebrate Passover. I have other people I know who are putting these mini chairs in the center of the table."

"You know, usually we leave out a cup of wine for Elijah but I'm leaving it out just in case a hostage comes back and wants to join us," said Oren Rubinstein, a Pacifica resident. He lost a cousin on Oct. 7 and had two other loved ones held hostage both freed and he's hoping the same for the others.

"I think Passover is the perfect time to really demonstrate our hope that they are free and that they are safe," Rubinstein said.

And across the U.S., the FBI is warning of possible threats.

MORE: FBI on alert for threats to the Jewish community ahead of Passover, director says

"I want you to know that we at the FBI are closely tracking these very real threats that have your communities on edge and we're actively hitting back at the perpetrators full force. "Christopher Wray, FBI Director.

Meanwhile in Oakland, Rabbi Bloom says they're upping protections.

"We're having private security, we're installing upgraded glass, we're making every door is very secure, getting codes, all these things," he said.

And with precautions are in place, he's hopeful for a peaceful Passover.

"You just never know so it is in the back of our minds, but we've been reached out to by our friends, and our neighbors, and the police and we think we're going to be safe here," Rabbi Bloom said.

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