‘We’re in triage mode’: San Antonio Jewish leaders working to help Israel

A solidarity vigil in support of Israel will be held Monday evening at Temple Beth-El

SAN ANTONIO – On a weekend meant to celebrate Simchat Torah, which marks the beginning of a new annual cycle of the reading of the scrolls, many Jewish San Antonians are planning a vigil to mourn those killed in Israel.

“It’s been heartbreaking,” said Temple Beth-El’s senior rabbi, Mara Nathan. “It is incredibly frustrating.”

And prayers for peace have yet to be answered.

“There’s just sort of this irrational feeling like you want to run towards the trouble because you hate to just be sitting back and watching it all happen,” said Nathan.

Watching war unfold has been “an emotional rollercoaster” for Nammie Ichilov, the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio.

“We’re in triage mode right now trying to figure out what needs to be done and how we can take care of it,” he said.

On Monday, the Jewish Federation will host a solidarity gathering for Israel at Temple Beth-El starting at 6 p.m.

“It’s gonna be a time for us to be able to pray together, to be able to pray for the loss of life that’s taken place, to pray for the hopeful return of the hostages that were taken, and to pray for peace because ultimately, that’s all we’re really trying to achieve,” explained Ichilov.

However, while some are rallying to support Israel, others are backing Palestine.

One flyer on social media invited Palestinian supporters to a Sunday rally in downtown San Antonio.

“To have a rally to support those kinds of behaviors to me, is inexplicable,” said Ichilov.

Many at Temple Beth-El say they will continue to pray for a solution to the violence.

“Be here to support not just the people of Israel and the state of Israel, but the Jewish community and I think the general sense that all human beings deserve to be safe and secure in their own homes,” said Nathan.

Between 2021 and 2022, the Anti-Defamation League reported a 36% increase in antisemitic incidents. Both Nathan and Ichilov said law enforcement has been in contact with them as a precaution.

About the Author

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.

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