SWAMPSCOTT — When it seemed Israel was about to invade the Gaza Strip to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks, the North Shore Jewish community held an emergency Israel solidarity rally at Congregation Shirat Hayam on Atlantic Avenue on Sunday night. At least 500 people attended, said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad of the North Shore, co-chairman of the event with Rabbi Baruch HaLevi of Congregation Shirat Hayam, both of Swampscott.
The next night, Lipsker said a contingent from the North Shore headed to a “Freedom From Fear” rally at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill.
Sunday’s rally included various North Shore rabbis, members from various temples and other organizations. It was streamed live and videotaped and then sent to the Israeli Embassy, HaLevi told the audience.
“It’s important to come together, it’s important to rise up in these moments,” HaLevi said during the service.
Yesterday at 2 p.m. came word of a cease-fire after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted talks in the region. A bus bombing in Tel Aviv, reports of airstrikes by Israel Defense Forces and more rockets launched from Gaza preceded word of the lull in fighting.
“As Americans and Jews, we have an obligation to support a democracy in the Middle East,” Lipsker said in an interview. He said the rally tried to put into perspective for those in attendance what this latest round of violence was all about.
“Israel is simply defending its civilians,” HaLevi said. “That is not what Hamas is doing.”
Local Jewish community leaders say it is wrong to draw a parallel between what Israelis are enduring, living under the constant threat of attack by Hamas rockets, and what those living in Gaza are going through. The civilians who are killed and injured by Israeli airstrikes are being used as “human shields” as a way to turn world opinion against Israel, HaLevi said.