Hundreds Gather to Hear From Families of Hostages | Shalom Austin

Hundreds Gather to Hear From Families of Hostages

The Jewish Outlook

Nov 30, 2023

Austin community members gather together to hear harrowing stories from the survivors and families of hostages from the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7. Credit: Rebecca Golden

By Shelly Shwartz

More than 400 community members came together at the Dell JCC on November 16 to hear personal stories from families of hostages being held in Gaza since October 7.

Since October 7, the community has joined the efforts of the BRINGTHEMHOMENOW initiative, a worldwide effort to raise awareness for the hostages and ask for their immediate release.

The Austin community initiated and participated in a few projects to promote this. Starting with the Solidarity Gathering for Israel on October 9, March for Israel at the Texas State Capitol, March for Israel in Washington D.C., the hostage tribute at Austin City Hall, “Run for Their Lives” run/walk race, and many other ways to raise awareness including hanging posters around town, promotion on social media and more.

The November 16th Meeting with Families of Hostages event was the highlight of those activities.

From left to right: Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, Nir Shani, Ella Shani, Dori Roberts, Daniel Lifshitz Credit: Rebecca Golden

From left to right: Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, Nir Shani, Ella Shani, Dori Roberts, Daniel Lifshitz Credit: Rebecca Golden

The delegation that came from Israel had three family members on it:

Nir Shani – His son Amit, 16 years old, was kidnapped by Hamas. He lived in Kibbutz Be’eri all his life. He is a Physical therapist and father of 4.

Ella Shani – Her Father was murdered by Hamas, and her cousin, Amit, was kidnapped. She is 14 years old. Lives in Kibbutz Be’eri.

Daniel Lifshitz – His grandparents, Oded and Yocheved Lifshitz, were kidnapped by Hamas. Yocheved was released a few weeks ago. He is 35 years old and grew up in Kibbutz Nir Oz.

We also had an Austin community member who shared his personal story about his family members who were kidnapped:

Dori Roberts – Five of his family members were kidnapped by Hamas from their home in Kibbutz Nir-Oz. He is 47 years old, born and raised in Israel, now living with his family in Austin.

Nir, Ella, Daniel, and Dori shared their personal story that was extremely hard to hear, but very important for everyone to hear. Those amazing people, who only four weeks ago had the most horrible experience of their lives (including the death of their own family members), told the audience how important it is for them to keep telling their story, again and again so no one will forget what happened and no one will forget the hostages.

The November 16th event also recognized the families in the Austin community that have family members in Israel who were murdered or are being held hostages.

Consul General of Israel to the southwest Livia Link-Raviv shared her remarks. Shalom Austin CEO Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, opened the event and led the speakers’ panel. Cantor Yitzhak Ben Moshe from Congregation Beth El led a special prayer for the hostages and the safety of the soldiers. Lia Nevipur sang “Walk to Caesarea” and “Imagine.” Dorit Heldenberg Sherel, a member of the BRINGTHEMHOMENOW Austin group, shared about the activities that the community was involved with in the last four weeks. The event was concluded with the singing of Hatikvah (national anthem for the State of Israel) and a call for the immediate release of the hostages. 

This last month shows how strong and united the Austin community. They are involved and committed to the return of the hostages. They are their voices, and they will speak up for them as long as it will take.

This event is a partnership between Israeli-American Council (IAC) and Shalom Austin, and was organized with help from the Consulate General of Israel in Houston.

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