Jewish community hosts Empty Shabbat Table to raise awareness of hostages in Gaza

Places were set for all 241 hostages in the Community Hall parking lot.

Updated on Nov. 10

The Jewish community of Piedmont participated in the global Empty Shabbat Table movement on Thursday evening in the Community Hall parking lot to raise awareness of the 241 hostages held in Gaza. Residents were invited to view the table from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and attend a vigil at 5:45 p.m. Event organizers estimate that more than 750 people came through the temporary exhibit and said that hundreds also attended the accompanying community vigil, which featured music and prayers from Jewish leaders and speakers from the community who have personal connections to the hostages.   

A panoramic view of the table (Gadi Meir)

The exhibit also allowed the larger community to come together, especially as divisive rhetoric and rallies have left little room for Jews and non-Jews to show support for the hostages, their families, and one another. 

“As the hostage crisis enters its second month, this exhibit marked the fifth Shabbat our family, friends, and loved ones are missing. Tonight, these 241 seats will still sit painfully empty at what is usually a joyous weekly celebration,” said Donna Friedman Meir, a main organizer of the event.  “Our heartbreaking display was unique, as the table was set with toys, sporting equipment, books, and other personal mementos meant to help us get to know each hostage on a more human level. It awakened us all to the suffering of these individuals and their families, and acted as an urgent plea to prioritize and work towards their safe return.”

The organizers urged attendees to call or email their elected state and federal representatives on a daily basis and to demand the immediate return of the hostage.

Resources are available through and Organizers also encouraged supporters to use their social media to raise awareness for the hostages and to start demanding they be brought home now, as many Jews are shocked and dismayed that the hostages are all but being ignored on the world stage.  

Among the hostages there are babies and toddlers, teenagers, mothers and fathers separated from their children, grandparents and holocaust survivors. They come from more than 30 countries, and they are Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhists.  

Providing a peaceful place for Jews and non-Jews to come together was an important aspect of the event. The organizers were thrilled with the outpouring of support demonstrated by the large turnout, and credited the safe and peaceful atmosphere to the assistance of the City of Piedmont and the Piedmont Police Department.

The exhibit also featured a powerful candlelit memorial table honoring all the innocent lives that have been lost in the conflict. A sign on the table read:  “Our Jewish values call us to honor all the innocent lives that have been lost and impacted by the ongoing war.”

(Last photo courtesy of Rick Schiller)

3 thoughts on “Jewish community hosts Empty Shabbat Table to raise awareness of hostages in Gaza

  1. This was such a thoughtful and moving event. It made us all feel proud to be members of this community.
    Thank you for every single person who donated time and effort to make it happen ❤️

  2. Our deepest gratitude to the greater Piedmont community, the City of Piedmont staff and council members, Chief Bowers and the PPD, PEF and the Piedmont Community Church for all their help in making this powerful gathering possible. Thank you for helping us shine a light on these 241 souls. We hope we can bring them home soon.

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