VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A community gathering took place on Tuesday in Hampton Roads to show support for Israel.

“Today is not the day to cry. Today is not the day to weep. Today is not the day to count our dead. It is the day to honor the deceased by embracing the life that they stood for,” said Rabbi Gershon Litt, the president and congregation director at B’nai Israel.

The event comes after violence erupted Saturday morning when Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, launched a surprise attack on Israel.

“My neighbor was kidnapped. She’s either dead or kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. She was a soldier and they attacked her military base. We haven’t spoken to her since Saturday,” said Naomi Friedland, a speaker.

Friedland recently graduated high school in Israel. She moved to Hampton Roads in August. Another recent Israeli graduate is Maya Ostrov. Ostrov and Friedland have family that live in the center of Israel.

“They get a lot of rockets and they only have I think, if I’m not wrong, between 50 seconds to 30 seconds to get to the safe space to the shelter. They just stay there all the time,” Ostrov said.

United Jewish Federation of Tidewater issued a statement condemning the assault in the strongest possible terms. The group said it recognizes that Israel’s only plausible response is to rightfully pursue a comprehensive aggressive strategy to restore calm to the region and protect her citizens.

Elected officials, community leaders and religious leaders participated in the program on the Reba & Sam Sandler Family Campus on Corporate Woods Drive in Virginia Beach.

“Israel’s presence is a miracle, and its strength is a gift,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Since the attack more than 5,000 rockets have been fired on the country. More than 700 Israelis were killed, and more than 2,000 people hurt. In addition, around 150 people are held hostage by Hamas.

“It’s a difficult time. I would say that following the Holocaust, this is probably our darkest hour,” said Rabbi Israel Zoberman, founder of Temple Lev Tikvah. “We shall overcome.”

What you can do:

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater has opened the Tidewater Supports Israel- 2023 Emergency Fund to assist the victims, their families, and address other emerging needs.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, is asking for the support of all elected officials in denouncing Hamas terror. Click here to send an email showing your support and to receive emails from AJC.