NYC faith leader in Israel describes tense moments a week into country's war with Hamas
News 12 spoke on Saturday with a deeply respected New York City faith leader who is in Israel one week after Hamas launched a deadly attack in the country.
Michael Miller is the CEO Emeritus of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. He showed News 12 how he turned his home into an emergency shelter for his family as air raid sirens warn of rocket attacks, with crucial minutes to find safety.
"You have got to be prepared because there is likely a rocket that is not going to end up, hopefully, in a populated area, and when it lands it makes a huge noise," Miller said.
The native New Yorker said he was in a synagogue last Saturday when Hamas raided Israel with rockets in the surprise attack, turning Shabbat into a time of sorrow.
"The rocket landed. So we're in the area and the security team in the city came to the synagogue and suggested the situation was highly dangerous and the rabbi decided to suspend the services," Miller recalled. He said he is now sensitive to the sounds of sirens filling the air, with many running for cover.
"You hear the explosions of the Iron Dome system, which is the system of anti-rocket missiles that are fired by Israel up into the sky. They take out the rockets that are headed to populated areas," he said.
Miller pushed back his return flight to New York as officials scramble to get Americans stranded in Israel back home to the United States.
"I stayed with my family and extended my stay 'til midweek next week. I will assess mid next week to determine if I’m going to be going back," he said.
As a week-old war raged on with the death toll rising by the day, Palestinians grappled where to go from northern Gaza as Israel struck back following the deadly rampage. For Miller, however, staying strong for his family is what is important.
'I'm happy to be here. I live for my family and for their future," he said.