AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — The ongoing violence is stirring up emotions for the Western New York Jewish and Muslim communities.

On Friday, a group from Jewish congregations across the area gathered outside the Jewish Community Center in Amherst to hold a vigil. Many of those in attendance have family members who live in Israel.

“When there’s outbreaks of violence and war, it’s never really far from home,” said Alex Lazarus-Klein, Rabbi of Shir Shalom. “Just a few weeks from now, we have my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. She’s 13, and my sister-in-law was supposed to come in from Israel and she was phoning us this week saying she’s seeing rockets over her head, the airport’s shut down.”

Leaders say they wanted this vigil’s message to be clear – they’re calling for peace.

“The majority of people are the peaceful people, are the moderate people that seek only peace and co-existence,” said Gon Erez, Chief Program Director of the Jewish Community Center of Buffalo.

The local Muslim community is also hoping for peace. Faizan Haq is the president of WNY Muslims. He said he believes we’re getting to a point where the United States might have to step in.

“Unless we, the people of the United States of America, get involved – because we have stakes on both sides. We are heavily involved in the Middle East because of our policies, because of our presence. I believe we should put our foot down,” he said.

And as the violence continues overseas, Haq said we can make a difference back here at home.

“For the sake of our loved ones who live there in Israel and Palestine, please come together and find a solution,” he said.

There will be another gathering Saturday at 1 p.m. at Niagara Square, this time in solidarity with the Muslim community.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.



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