The religious community came together in St. John’s County on Friday during Temple Bet Yam’s Shabbat service to pray for peace in Israel.
Organizers said it was important to not only show solidarity with the victims in the Middle East, but also to condemn Hamas.
Faith and community leaders from St. Augustine and St. John’s County attended to show unity with the Jewish community and Israel. Rabbi Claudio Kogan said his main goal is to pray for peace for Israelis and Palestinians.
“We as Jewish people, we pray for freedom, for justice, for peace. Come to join us because this is unfortunately the beginning. We want freedom, we want justice, but we cannot see kids dying,” Kogan said.
Rev. David Williamson with Grace United Methodist Church was one of the faith leaders in attendance. He shares what it means for the religious community in St. Augustine to pray together as the war between Hamas and Israel continues.
“It’s important for us to come together and see one another’s humanity to spend time and just breathe together, to recognize our common breath, to realize that we’re all human beings, and violence is not the answer, these are things that continue to cycle, and we need to pray for peace,” Williamson said.
Sheriff Robert Hardwick attended the service with his wife, along with several members of the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office. He said the department is going above and beyond to make sure residents feel safe in their place of worship.
“We’re already doing this with things going on around the world so with that being said we already have this partnership, we already have this relationship, we were already sharing intelligence with all of our faith-based community,” Hardwick said.
It wasn’t just faith leaders who were here tonight. In addition to the St. John’s County Sheriff, there was also the mayor of St. Augustine and the superintendent of St. John’s County Schools.