METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) — The head of a local Jewish organization is praying for the safety of his family and others’ families in Israel while also raising awareness about the conflict.

Robert French, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, says, in speaking with family and friends, he has learned flights are available to those who were visiting Israel, but Israelis who were abroad, trying to return home, are now scrambling to find flights.

“Friday night, I actually started to get texts and calls from family in Israel that rockets were being fired, and they showed pictures of what was happening outside their window and how they had to keep going down to the bomb shelters, which unfortunately is very common in Israel, so we think ‘here they go again,’” French said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans CEO says his brother and his family live in Israel, and his mother is currently there visiting amid Hamas’ unprecedented attacks on the country.

“You know, I message my nieces and nephews, and they’re terrified,” French said. “They’re scared, they’re home, and they just worry for the future of the country and themselves.”

French says Israelis were taken by surprise Friday as the Islamic terrorist group from Gaza raided their country, leaving more than 1,500 people dead on both sides.

“So, Israel is stunned, and Israel is dazed in terms of what has happened, but Israel is also resolute in terms of the strong country, in terms of the action it needs to take to secure its borders and to protect its people,” French said.

The local Jewish leader says now is the time for solidarity.

“It’s important that the community understands that we stand with Israel, it’s important that people understand Israel has the right to protect her citizens and demonstrate to Israel that its communities around the world support her,” French said.

To find out how you can help Israelis or learn more about the conflict, visit the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans website.

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