SAN DIEGO — Over 4,000 community members gathered for a solidarity vigil hosted by the Jewish Federation of San Diego Tuesday night at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla.

There was quite the outpour of support as many shared stories, prayers, and a message highlighting the power of community amid overwhelming chaos.

“I do know one of the hostages. I’m just praying for her to be alive and released,” said Fabienne Perlov, who’s the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego. “I really call for the international community to put pressure on Hamas to release the 150 women, men, children, elderly from the hands of Gaza.” 

To find the words to describe the depth of emotion is a daunting task as many mourn the death of the beloved mayor of San Diego’s sister city Sha’ar HaNegev — a close friend to many here at home.

“He was an incredible person; he was passionate and compassionate. He had been to San Diego many times. He was a warrior for peace. He was doing everything he could, ironically, to bring peace to the very people that took his life,” said Heidi Gantwerk, who’s the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria was also there sharing a powerful message of unity as rain began to fall Tuesday night amid a time of terrifying division.

“When today is written about, let’s not say it was raining. These are tears of a community in morning. The tears of the innocent who are slaughtered that we will never forget,” shared Gloria.

“They’re so much more than my colleagues, they are my dear friends. These are people I speak with and communicate with, and work together with consistently,” shared Betzy Lynch with the Jacobs Family Campus.

The war in the Middle East continues to leave the thousands in attendance Tuesday with many sleepless nights, temporarily aided by gatherings like the one held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center where the power of community stands strong.

“This is a humanitarian issue. This is like 9/11. This is an issue for the world. This is a level of savagery, a fight for civilization in itself against the forces of darkness and evil.”

Elan Carr, CEO of the Israeli American Council