Interfaith vigil brings Peninsula community together to pray for peace


SAN MATEO -- More than a dozen different faith leaders came together at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in San Mateo Saturday to show support for the Jewish community and stand against hate.

They sang, they prayed and shared stories of hostages being held by Hamas.

Foster City resident Isaac Guggenheim wore a heart on his jersey.

"I think what people forget a lot of times is that Catholics, Muslims and Jews are brothers, we are all together, we are all monotheistic religions," he said. "I'm a Jew, I went to Catholic school, I went to Serra High School for four years and I felt very welcome there."

Guggenheim said it has been tough to see the war unfold on social media.

"It's not Jews versus Muslims and Jews versus Catholics and Catholics versus Jews. We're all together and we all need to be standing as one," he said.

On Saturday night, that's what dozens of attendees did.

The vigil was organized by the Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC). CEO Jordan Shenker said there has been a rise in antisemitism in the Bay Area.

"There's great anxiety and fear among people in the Jewish community and people have been directly impacted. We haven't had any incidents in Foster City as of yet. We're hopeful we won't. There has been a great deal of support in our community but we're seeing reports from all across the country. My hope is that events like tonight will remind people that's not OK," Shenker said. 

The mayors of San Mateo, Menlo Park and Foster City spoke to the congregation. Some mentioned troubling cases of antiseminitism in Bay Area schools.

"When there's swastikas in the schoolyards and, especially, in classrooms where there's comments being made that are very antiseminitic and it's just not the right proper place -- it's not the proper message to be sent," said Foster City mayor Jon Froomin. "That's the thing that I am proud of at this event tonight -- is the message is about hope, the message is about getting the hostages back, the message is about supporting the people. It is not an anti-Palestinian event."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR-SFBA said it has documented a more than 200 percent increase in complaints of Islamophobia since the war began.

"The so-called progressive Bay Area is not exempt. We have received reports of violent hate crimes. We have received reports of violent hate crimes in Monterey, in Stanford, in Petaluma, in San Francisco and the list goes on. Our community is under attack," said CAIR-SFBA executive director Zahra Billoo. 


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