Nantucket's spiritual leaders reacted Tuesday to the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas militants and the subsequent escalation of the conflict that led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare "We are at war."
The leaders of Nantucket's Jewish community at Congregation Shirat HaYam - president Chuck Shoneman and rabbi Gary Bretton- Granatoor - shared the following statement Tuesday morning:
"After a surprise attack by Hamas militants on the Sabbath and one of the most joyful
days in the Jewish calendar, Israel is now engaged in defense of her people, land and
borders," they stated. "Every organization that cares for Israel has made a statement of support and we are grateful for these messages. We wanted to reach out to you to express our concern for Israel and her people, and for all who love them. Shirat HaYam is a vibrant community. While the views of our members may be diverse, we believe our Congregation is united in its support for Israel and the safety and security of her people. Days ago, many within Israel marched in the streets in protest. When Israel was threatened by outside forces, the protestors returned home and those eligible readily commenced to defend the nation they love."
On behalf of the Nantucket Interfaith Council - which represents a broad spectrum of faiths on the island - Father Max Wolf, of St. Paul's Church on Fair Street, sent out a statement underlining the group's support for Israel.
"Our Dear Nantucket Community, We are writing in the midst of the grief and horror we are all experiencing as we witness the terrorist attacks, murder and hostage-taking of innocent Israeli citizens," Wolf wrote. "We stand in solidarity with Israel as their very survival is threatened by forces bent on their destruction. There is no justification for such indiscriminate hatred and violence. Our hearts go out to our cherished Jewish sisters and brothers of Nantucket’s Congregation Shirat HaYam, especially during this time of great distress. We honor them for the generosity of spirit that they share with our island community, and for the faithful leadership of Nantucket Interfaith Council’s current President, Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor. We pray for the safe return of all hostages, for comfort and strength for those who mourn, and that there may be a true peace - Shalom - in the Middle East and throughout the world. O loving God, let it be so."
In a follow-up message to the Current, Congregation Shirat HaYam president Chuck Shoneman added that there were still so many unknowns at this point in the conflict, and emphasized that he and others in the congregation were concerned about the long-term ramifications of the war.
"I have spoken with a number of our members over the past few days about the terrible events in Israel," Shoneman wrote in an e-mail. "They are deeply troubled by these events and worried, as they should be. The hostage situation is particularly disturbing. Not knowing when and how this war is going to end, and what the long-term consequences will be, is distressing. I believe we are all thinking of and praying for Israel, her people and their safety and security at this time. I would think that many of our Congregants may have family or friends in Israel. However, I have not been made aware of any direct connections to Nantucket (although that doesn't mean there aren't any).