The known number of hostages taken by Hamas from Israel has grown to an estimated 240 people. That means 240 vacant chairs at Shabbat tables. It is 240 empty place settings. These are men, women, and children who were violently ripped from their homes, torn from their families, and are now being kept as bargaining chips by a terrorist organization.
In conjunction with the many Israelis who call Cincinnati home, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is honoring those 240 hostages with the largest Shabbat table in the city—a table with 240 empty spaces representing the 240 lives that hang in the balance as Israel wages war on Hamas, a war meant to eradicate Hamas and bring peace to the region.
This unique Shabbat table will be set up in Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine from approximately 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 10, 2023. Members of the community are invited to visit the display during that time.
The Federation is encouraging everyone to wear a blue ribbon as a global unity symbol in solidarity with hostages and their families. We are also putting up “Kidnapped” posters to raise awareness of this crisis and will adorn each chair with the image of a victim. The victims range in age from 3 months to 85 years old. Similar tables have been arranged around the world, including in Israel, at US landmarks, and on college campuses.
Friday’s display is the latest in a series of public and private efforts by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to demonstrate solidarity with the State of Israel and the Cincinnati Jewish community, while condemning the rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab rhetoric in the US and elsewhere. For more information about these and other efforts, visit our growing list of resources here.