NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Prayers services across Central Illinois are being held in solidarity with Israel. Dozens of students gathered met on the quad to join Chabad at ISU.

The evening included words of encouragement to remain strong during this time of adversity. Students also joined together in Jewish song and prayer.

Ariel Atias runs track for ISU and is from Haifa, Israel. He’s been able to talk with his family when he’s not busy with school and training.

“My whole family is there. All of my friends are there fighting and trying to protect our home. We’re fighting for our existence. We don’t have any other options but to win,” he said.

Atias says it means a lot to see his friends and family away from home show their support.

“I’m using the training as my escaping from life. Because other than that it’s really hard. It’s really hard to focus on the classroom. It’s really hard to focus anywhere,” he said. “I feel frustrated. I’m here. I’m trying to do the best I can from here but I can’t do much.”

The turmoil in Israel comes less than a month after the Jewish community celebrated Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year.

“We had our month holidays with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. This war right now on Simchat Torah reminds us, 50 years ago of the Yom Kippur War,” Atias said.

Atias graduates in December and the plan is for his family to come to graduation and then he’ll go back home before returning to ISU to complete his master’s. He said he hopes they can come for graduation yet he doesn’t know if he’ll even be able to go home.