Local News

Interfaith Shabbat service planned in Lombard in response to Texas hostage crisis

Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard plans to hold an interfaith Shabbat service “of solidarity and gratitude” this Friday.

It’s in response to last weekend’s crisis in Colleyville, Texas, in which Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three members of Temple Beth Israel were held hostage by a British gunman.

“We knew early on from this situation that we wanted to do something for our community to come together,” said Etz Chaim Associate Rabbi Jessica Wainer. “It’s to give thanks that all the hostages were able to escape safely, and also to show our community that we have interfaith support and that our friends from the different faith communities are here for us.”

Members of Congregation Etz Chaim were among Jews around the world who were full of apprehension and dread as the hostage crisis unfolded.

But Etz Chaim religious leaders were heartened that clergy of other faiths throughout the Western suburbs reached out to them to offer prayers and messages of support.

“When a religious community -- specifically our Jewish friends -- are targeted, the right place to be is with them so they know they are not alone,” said the Rev. Jay Moses of Hope Presbyterian Church in Wheaton.

According to Wainer, more than a dozen faith leaders have since pledged to attend and offer prayers at the Shabbat service set for 7:30 p.m. at 1710 S. Highland Ave. in Lombard.

Etz Chaim Senior Rabbi Andrea Cosnowsky and Wainer will be leading the service. Rabbi Emeritus Steven Bob and Etz Chaim President Jacob Cynamon-Murphy also will speak.

“There will be one representative from the Christian faith and one representative from the Muslim faith who will have an opportunity to speak,” Wainer said.

Those attending in person must follow COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing masks and observing social distancing. An online livestream of the Shabbat service will also be available.

“When we gather like this, it’s to remind ourselves that we can turn to this community in times of need,” Wainer said.

“But also when we gather like this, it’s a reminder to the entire community that we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, that Jews belong in America just like everybody else, and we deserve to have safe spaces to pray just like everyone else.”

To register to attend the service, visit congetzchaim.org.