Jewish Press of Pinellas County

Bay area community marches to ‘bring them back home now’

In St. Petersburg, community members march through downtown and on The Pier.

In St. Petersburg, community members march through downtown and on The Pier.

Grassroots groups are popping up throughout the Tampa Bay area, organizing marches in support of Israel and the hostages taken in the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks.

In mid-December, dozens of people participated in a “Bring Them Back Home Now” silent march through downtown St. Petersburg and on the nearby St. Pete Pier.

“The Israeli and Jewish community lives have been turned upside down and we have been working relentlessly to raise awareness to the atrocities done by Hamas while worrying desperately for our family and friends that are now fighting for their lives in Israel, either on the front lines or on the home front,” wrote Anat, an Israeli now living in the Bay area who asked for security reasons her last name not be used.

Among other activities the group has held are:

• A “Support Israel Rally” at Curtis Hixon Park (a collaboration with the IAC – Israeli American Council).

• A “Bring Them Home” silent standing rally during a Lightning game.

Marchers walk silently past the Hyde Park Village Sunday market in Tampa.

Marchers walk silently past the Hyde Park Village Sunday market in Tampa.

• A “Support Israel Boat Parade” (a collaboration with the IAC).

• An additional “Bring Them Home” silent rally at the Hyde Park Village Sunday market.

The group also made an Amazon wish list for IDF soldiers and the displaced families from the kibbutzim and sent boxes of equipment, toys, medical supplies and letters from local children to provide moral support.

Anat noted the events are not only to raise awareness locally but to help strengthen the people and families in Israel whose hearts have been shattered by the attacks. To learn more about this group’s activities, go to Instagram and search Tampa Stands with Israel.

In Clearwater another group, initiated by Wendy Hutkin, is teaming up with “Run for Your Lives,” an organization started in California by Israeli Americans that has spread globally.

That group met for the first time on Sunday, Jan 14, in recognition of the 100th day of the hostages’ captivity.

Supporters of Israel in Clearwater plan to walk every Sunday until the hostages come home.

Supporters of Israel in Clearwater plan to walk every Sunday until the hostages come home.

“We had 16 participants join together and we welcome the community to join us each Sunday until we no longer need to walk,” Hutkin said.

The group walked for 18 minutes (Chai for life), carrying signs and flags of some of the home countries of the hostages.

Hutkin said the group will meet every Sunday at 12:15 p.m. and will walk on Memorial Causeway. For more information including location of meetup spot, contact Hutkin at Wbhutkin@gmail.com

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