An “Empty Shabbat Table” installation was set up on Friday to call attention to the 220 hostages being held captive by Hamas.
The installation was set up on the south side of 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and it was modeled after the display set up outside the Tel Aviv Museum last week.
The tables – equipped with plates, silverware and challah – were placed in a long line stretching down the street. A poster of each missing hostage was taped to the back of each empty chair, and as some of the hostages are only infants, some tables also had sippy cups and suction plates.
The project was sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer, B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue, Ansche Chesed Synagogue, the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, and the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.
Another display was set up in Times Square, and major cities like Los Angeles and Geneva have had their own empty Shabbat tables. The tradition began in the 1960s during the movement to free Soviet Jews.