A weekend installation at Schenley Plaza is highlighting the ongoing captivity of an estimated 240 people currently held in Gaza. Between now and 7 p.m. on Nov. 4, passersby in Oakland will see an empty Shabbat table set for 240. Placed on each chair are photographs of those taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7.
The plight of hostages is “deep within us,” Racheli Holstein said. “We want these people to be back home, to get to celebrate their Shabbat dinners with their family.”
Holstein, an organizer of the installation, is an Israeli-American and former educator at Community Day School. She said she reached out to Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh about spotlighting the hostage situation.
Adam Hertzman, Federation’s director of marketing, then contacted Shari Zatman, a professional event planner, about helping coordinate the initiative.
Zatman, owner of Perfectly Planned by Shari, secured the rental of Schenley Plaza and contacted colleagues to “get the tables, the chairs and all the table settings,” she said.
Without donations, the installation would have run “at least twice” its $5,000 cost, Zatman said, pointing to details, including seven high chairs representing abducted children, Shabbat candles, wine and challah that will be on the table, and “grape juice for the kids.”
“We want the takeaway to bring public awareness as to what is going on with the violence and the kidnapped civilians of Israel,” Zatman said.
There’s an added element to holding a silent personless demonstration in such a public fashion, Kari Exler, assistant director of Hillel JUC, said while helping set the table.
“It’s Pitt family weekend, and we’re really encouraging families to come by tonight and tomorrow to come see this,” she said. Many people continue to see graphics denoting that an estimated 240 individuals remain in Hamas’ captivity, however, “we want people to also have a visual opportunity to see and really feel how many people that is.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.