It was a powerful sight–a table set for 240 people, its chairs snaking off into the distance as if waiting for the occupants to arrive.
Yet they would not arrive–these chairs, at least for now, would remain empty.
Instead of a person, each chair was bedecked with a simple poster; stark white letters on a white background, a photo of a face. And the words “Kidnapped.”
On Friday, a coalition of Jewish organizations assembled by the Jewish Community Relations Council set empty tables for the 240 hostages kidnapped from Israel by Hamas on October 7. The tables were meant to reflect the weekly Jewish holiday of Shabbat, on which many Jews sit down to a meal with friends and family.
Their emptiness also sends a message. As the JCRC told the Bay Area Telegraph in a statement, the tables reflect the hostages’ absence, and the world’s demand that they be returned safely to their homes and families.
JCRC and their partner organizations placed the tables in public parks around the Bay Area and in Sacramento, including in Walnut Creek and in downtown San Francisco, on Friday.
The placement of the empty tables was accompanied by rallies at the State capitol and elsewhere demanding the safe return of the hostages.
It’s one thing to hear the number “240 hostages,” and quite another to see the magnitude of that number made real by a seemingly never-ending line of empty chairs.