TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Several Jewish organizations joined forces Thursday to unveil an installation in Times Square and raise awareness of the hundreds of people believed to be held hostage by Hamas.
An empty Shabbat table with 224 seats sat in the middle of Times Square, symbolizing the hostages held captive in Gaza, unable to observe Shabbat with family.
“It’s about bringing memories,” said Tal Shustar, of the Israeli-American Council. “Celebrating our Shabbat dinner, celebrating the holy days. We have 224 hostages that were kidnapped on Oct. 7, and they are not part of these memories.”
The pictures of kidnapped Israelis and Americans adorned the backs of chairs while teddy bears were placed on the ground, serving as a powerful reminder of the missing children. Nave Strauss believes his family is among the kidnapped.
“We’re in a constant state of anxiety and depression,” Strauss said. “There’s little to no information. We don’t know if they’re alive. We have to hold hope. It’s been the horror of all horrors.”
Hamas released two hostages last Friday and two more on Monday. Hila Leumi-Levy believes her 19-year-old niece is being held captive and is praying for the safe return of all hostages.
“She’s so young and she just started her life and we just want her back,” Leumi-Levy said.
The installation’s unveiling happened at the same time as thousands of ralliers stormed Wall Street in support of Palestinians.
Demonstrators marched to City Hall protesting against U.S. weapons manufacturers, hoping to put pressure on companies supplying the Israeli war effort.