Sportie LA founder Isack Fadlon, a veteran footwear retailer and member of the Jewish community, recently partnered with Los Angeles nonprofit Maman and several individuals to raise awareness for hundreds of hostages being held in Gaza by the terrorist group Hamas.
Last weekend, Fadlon used Sportie LA’s FameYard, the art space outside of the retailer’s Melrose Avenue location, to stage a vigil and installation called “Empty Strollers.” The aim was to put a spotlight on the plight of the hostages and their families as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.
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On Oct. 7, the day of the terrorist attack on Israel, Hamas militants abducted the hostages and took them to the Gaza Strip. Since then, four hostages, all women, have been released. (More than 240 people were taken captive.) The New York Times reported that negotiations between the Israeli government — which has launched a ground attack in Gaza — and Hamas are ongoing. But so far no further hostages have been freed.
At least 30 children are among the hostages who have been separated from their families for more than a month. To represent them, the Los Angeles installation featured empty strollers with photos of the kids displayed on them. A pile of shoes was used to represent the adult hostages.
“We wanted to create a space for empathy and humanity during a time in our world when so much of that seems to be lost,” Fadlon said.
L.A. City Council member Katy Yaroslavsky and Nick Melvoin, board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke at the vigil. Community members also condemned the anti-semitic activity that has taken place across the U.S. in the last month, with a number of incidents reported across the country involving people ripping down posters of the hostages.
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