ITHACA, N.Y.—For the second time in a week, a crowd gathered on the Commons in downtown Ithaca to call for freedom in Palestine, hours after a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was announced.

Led by Ariel Gold of CodePink and officials from the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace led a Shabbat celebration on the evening of May 21, inviting people to speak and share prayers. Many of the intentions were devoted to an end to the violence in Gaza, but more broadly for an end to the “apartheid state” in the area against Palestinians.

Attendees were also treated to fresh Challah bread as the group of about 30 people gathered, prayed and sang. They held signs urging the United States to stop giving aid to Israel as long as Palestine is not freed. The growing support for Palestinians in America had inspired some people who came to the event that tangible change in the situation may come in their lifetimes.

“When I was growing up […] every time I thought about a free Palestine, it seemed impossible,” one speaker said. “But now I see a free Palestine in the near future.”

Like last weekend’s event, this one went off without interruption, despite the potent subject matter. Organizers called for a round of prayers towards the end of the event, asking for peace in the Middle East, freedom for Palestinians and justice for anyone oppressed the world over.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at