Jews across America have responded to the Iraqi attack on residential areas of Tel Aviv and Haifa with a mix of outrage, fear, hope and solidarity - emotions echoed in Salt Lake's Jewish community.
Reactions here have "covered a wide spectrum," said Rabbi Frederick Wenger of Congregation Kol Ami."As Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm, we have all been united in love for our country and the people of Israel," he said. "We may not always agree with the government of Israel, but our hearts are with the people. (We feel) a certain amount of rage when we contemplate any nation or any dictator who would seek to destroy it."
Salt Lake Jews with families in Israel say their relatives are tense but well-prepared for the crisis that has accompanied a war they neither started nor wanted.
"People are not really that afraid, but they are nervous," said Mazal Peterson, a Salt Lake Valley resident who has family in the two bombed Israeli cities. "It is a way of life there."
A woman who had spoken with her cousin in Israel said she was told everyone was calm and ready for whatever might happen. Knowing this makes her "feel very proud and very relieved," she said.
"It's very frightening," said the woman, born in Israel but a U.S. resident for the past 30 years. "I think that Israel, because of its precarious position over the last 40 years, is very prepared. They all have kids in the military, so there are a lot of worried parents. So it's tough."
Peterson spoke with her relatives on the telephone since the Iraqi attack and said the scene in their homes is much the same as those broadcast on U.S. television screens Thursday night: Everyone is sitting at home, and when the sirens go off, they put on their gas masks and seal themselves into "safe rooms," where they wait for an all-clear signal.
Such footage makes the war and its destruction less abstract to those who who aren't in Israel and all too real for those with relatives in harm's way. As Peterson said, "It's hard when you're here and your parents are there. It makes you want to get on a plane and go."
And as another member of the Salt Lake Jewish community put it, "It's hard to put a gas mask on a 2-year-old. But you do it."
"It is not our war," Peterson continued. "(Israelis) do not feel it is a war they should finish, that it would just create the third world war, and that it would be a mess.
"But again, we just don't know what (Saddam) is planning. He said he was going to bomb Israel, and he did. Thank God, it was a miracle, he didn't hit much."
However, as has been pointed out again and again, it is not over. As air-raid sirens sounded Friday for the second time, Defense Minister Moshe Arens said that Israel would react if attacked. That alarm turned out to be false, but the Israeli vow has put extra pressure on the allied forces to contain the war.
Twelve people were injured in the attack, and reports state that three elderly Israelis and an Arab child suffocated in their gas masks during one of the alerts.
Wenger said he had not been able to watch the first television broadcast of the statements made Thursday night by Zalman Shoval, Israeli ambassador to the United States.
But after hearing a transcript of Shoval's address - including the assertion that Israel "has paid the dearest price of any of the countries in the Middle East which have faced Iraqi aggression except Kuwait itself" - Wenger emphasized his congregation's support of U.S. military actions.
"I think all the members of the Salt Lake City Jewish community join in support of the American forces and the allied forces who are risking their lives in the Persian Gulf," he said. "We certainly stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We are praying for peace and justice.
"We also stand in admiration and love for our brothers and sisters, and members of our faith and every faith who have built Israel, the Holy Land, in our own time. I am full of admiration for the people of Israel and for its democratically elected government who are trying to act with concern and wisdom at the risk of their own lives."
Prayers for Israel as well as prayers for all the people fighting in the Persian Gulf were part of the Sabbath services Friday evening and Saturday morning.
"And I pray that all people of good will - Jews, Christians, Muslims, people of every nation - will work together to rid the world of tyranny, whether from Saddam Hussein or from any other source. May God bless us all."