Providence vigil set after outbreak of war in Israel

By: - October 9, 2023 12:23 pm

The flag of Israel is shown flying at Providence City Hall in a tweet posted by Mayor Brett Smiley on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2013. (X)

More than 5,500 miles from the Israeli-Palestine border, Rhode Island leaders and community members will gather to pray in the wake of deadly violence still unfolding between Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel.

The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island has organized a prayer vigil at its Providence community center Monday at 5:30 p.m. to pray for and honor the thousands of Isarelis killed in the large-scale attacks launched by Hamas Saturday.

“We really felt it was necessary for our community to be able to come together to mourn and to heal,” Adam Greenman, president and CEO, said in an interview on Monday. “We’re really needed in times like this to bring the community together.”

Especially because many Rhode Islanders have been touched by the violence, either because they are in Israel now, have family members there, or are former Israelis who now live in the Ocean State.

“Rhode Island has a fairly good population of Israelis,” Greenman said, noting the proximity of Boston and the draw of schools like Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. 

The one-hour community vigil at the Dwares Jewish Community Center, 401 Elmgrove Ave., will include remarks from Gov. Dan McKee, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and several local Israeli immigrants, along with musical selections and prayers led by community rabbis, according to a statement from the Jewish Alliance. 

Greenman expected a “fairly good-sized crowd” based on the 1,000-person attendance at a vigil held in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. 

Meanwhile, in a gesture of solidarity, an Israeli flag was hung from Providence City Hall Sunday. 

Leaders across Rhode Island openly condemned the violent attacks, which killed more than 1,100 people and left many more wounded.

I strongly condemn the abhorrent acts of terrorism by Hamas against innocent civilians in Israel,” Gov. Dan McKee said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 7. “These attacks are unconscionable. Rhode Island stands in solidarity with Israel and we pray for their safety.”

Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, denounced the attack as “appalling” in a statement on Oct. 7, adding that “Israel has a right to defend itself from attack.”

Whitehouse, too, condemned the attacks in a post on X.

“The reports of civilian casualties are heart-wrenching – there is never justification for terrorism,” Whitehouse wrote. 

Both Whitehouse and U.S. Rep. Seth Magaziner also shared social media posts about how to get information about U.S. citizens in Israel through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, or their offices.

Israel formally declared war Sunday, responding to the attacks with its own air strikes in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza strip. Centuries-old conflict between Israel and Palestine has been a source of division not only in the Middle East, but also among U.S. lawmakers.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is senior reporter covering state politics, energy and environmental issues for the Rhode Island Current.