Jacksonville Jewish, Palestinian communities pray for peace

Published On: Nov 19 2012 09:27:50 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 19 2012 10:49:39 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla -

Members of the Jacksonville Jewish Center spent Monday night in prayer for the people of Israel.

"The Jewish community around here and the world, we feel helpless, we want to do something. We don't know what to do, we turn to God and come together and pray," said Rabbi Jesse Olitzky.

The Jacksonville Jewish Center's congregation decided in just the past day to have a prayer service after seeing the constant barrage of news reports coming out of the Middle East of the rocket attacks between Israel and Hamas. A group Rabbi Olitzky calls a terrorist organization.

"Their sole purpose is to destroy state of Israel. All Israelis want is to live without fear, they don't want their children in bomb shelters," said Olitzky.

Israeli supporters aren't the only people concerned about the fighting. At Jacksonville's Ramallah Club, Palestinian Americans are just as concerned.

"It's a tragedy the people of Gaza have been through hell the past few years. They've endured a lot of hardship as well as the Israelis, they've endured hardship too. Peace is the only answer," said John Rukab, with the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville.

After speaking with both sides, both said they want peace in Israel, but said Americans don't always hear what's really going on from the American press.

"They never hear the Palestinian side when a Palestinian child dies. They only hear when an Israeli child dies and the numbers are probably 10 or 20 to 1. That whenever a Palestinian dies, you don't hear it in the American press," said Rukab.

Lenny Maiman arrived this morning from Israel a trip he'll never forget.

"I gained a fresh appreciation for what the people in the south of Israel have been living with for the past few years with the constant barrage of missiles," said Maiman.

Maiman traveled to the country for a charity bike ride to raise money for a Jerusalem children's hospital. He said he saw first hand what the people of Israel are going through.

"The event this year was in the south. On Wednesday night when the sirens went off consistently through the night. I know one museum that opened in the north on the weekend to let them come in for free. People in the south are coming north to friends, relatives and people who are opening their homes up," said Maiman.

Maiman joined fellow Jews Monday night at the Jacksonville Jewish Center for a prayer service where they're praying for Israel as the bombings and missile strikes from Hamas continues.

"The mood is such that everyone's tense but life does go on. I was at a cafe yesterday evening in Tel Aviv and there were people around, although in the south things are tense," said Maiman.