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New Jersey Jewish community visits Israel to support people affected by the war with Hamas, testify

CHERRY HILL, NJ (CBS) – For six days, members of Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill witnessed firsthand the devastation in Israel and expressed their support for fellow Jews like the The war between Israel and Hamas continues.

“As bad as I thought this was when I saw what was happening from New Jersey, it was even worse,” Rabbi Micah Peltz said.

Peltz helped the group in February to the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre, where Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing more than 360 civilians.

Rabbi Micah Peltz during an interview with CBS News Philadelphia;  an Israeli flag hangs in the background
Rabbi Micah Peltz

CBS News Philadelphia

“That first day really brought us back to the horrors of October 7 and really brought us face to face with the terrible atrocities that Hamas committed against Israel,” Peltz said.

“I’ve been to music festivals in southern Israel and spent a lot of time there, so this could have been me and my group of friends, and that was a real hit,” Alyssa Zentner said.

Zentner was part of the group that also visited a kibbutz location where many houses were burned during the attacks.

“You could still smell the smoke in the air when we were there a few months later. You could see people’s belongings, you could see clothes in washing machines,” Zentner said.

The group also met with patients at a drug rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv, packed food for displaced families and delivered letters from students in New Jersey to Israeli soldiers.

Peltz said it was important to show up and help in any way you can. He said it was clear that there was a mutual concern for the Jews in Israel and the Jews in America, which has recently become even clearer through the pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses through the whole country.

“We came and said, ‘We’re here to support you. How are you?’ What we immediately heard was: ‘We want to support you, that’s what we hear anti-Semitism is really taking off in the US, how are you doing?'” Peltz recalled.

Both Peltz and Zentner said their trip was powerful and motivating, and that it highlighted the resilience of so many families in Israel.

“To see how the Israeli people have come together to support each other and the families of the hostages, it’s unbelievable right now,” Peltz said.

Temple Beth Sholom is hosting another mission trip to Israel in June as a way to continue to show support.

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