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Barrie's Jewish community grieves, prays for peace in first Shabbat services since Hamas attack

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It was anything but a normal Shabbat service for the AM Shalom synagogue in Barrie on Saturday.

Members of the Jewish community gathered for their regular Saturday prayer, but Barrie police were on hand as a safety precaution both inside and outside the building.

"I looked around, and as grateful as I was for seeing the police it made my heart break. Why do we need the police to protect us for synagogue service?" said Rabbi Audrey Kaufman. "There is no medication that could have given us that we needed other than this community being here together like this. The absolute power of unity, there's nothing like it."

Police say they will continue to increase their presence in the coming days and weeks.

"Our presence here is needed. We know our community wants to see us, but we wanted to let them know that we are worried about them and we know that their sense of safety and security has been affected. We want them to know that we're going to be out and about to help reassure them they are safe," said Barrie Police Chief Rich Johnston.

People at the Saturday services are still digesting the horrific events of the past week and what lies ahead for their family and friends who live in Israel.

"Two of my uncles from father's side got murdered. They were killed by Hamas. They were shot while in their car," said George Garcia of Innisfil.

Local politicians were on hand to show their support today, too. Regardless of political affiliations, the message was peace.

Nir Maman is a former commander in the Israeli Defence Forces counter-terrorism unit. He now lives in Canada with his wife and five children. Next week, he'll fly back to Israel to join the fight against terrorism.

"This is tormenting. This is the most difficult position I have ever been in, watching our men, women and children get slaughtered and the thought of leaving my family to have to go there and do what I have to do, what we all need to do," said Maman.

Bradley Marks and his wife brought their two children to the synagogue.

"Everyone is just hoping to rally support and do what we can do to support each other here and to support all of our brothers and sisters in Israel," said Marks.

Nir Maman is scheduled to fly out to Israel next week and has no idea when he'll be able to return home to Canada.  

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