April 8, 2024
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Evening of Heroes Inspires MetroWest Community

Stories of bravery, miracles and faith help raise funds for the Resilience Center.

(l-r) Larry Rein; Renee Glick; Barbara Listhaus; Gavi Harlow; Rachel Edri; Moshe Glick; Shlomo Hammer; Amit Levi; Michal Greenglick and her husband, Tal Ben Shalom; and Evyatar Edri.

(Courtesy of MetroWest Israel Action Committee) More than 500 people gathered on March 17 at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (JKHA/RKYHS) in Livingston for an “Evening of Heroes” to hear incredible stories of bravery from those who survived Oct. 7 and to hear from those who lost loved ones while heroically saving the lives of others. The emotional evening, bringing together the community with laughter, tears and love, was co-sponsored by the MetroWest Israel Action Committee and the Gush Etzion Foundation in conjunction with Congregation AABJ&D, West Orange; Amit LaDerech, Herzliya; B’nai Shalom of West Orange; Chabad of West Orange; Cong. Etz Chaim, Livingston; Friendship Circle, Livingston; JKHA/RKYHS; JNF, Cong. Ohr Torah, Edison; One Israel Fund, Cedarhurst, New York; and Synagogue of the Suburban Torah, Livingston. The group’s tour also included appearances at Chabad at the Shore in Long Branch, New Jersey and at Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City.

According to Dr. Barbara Listhaus, event co-organizer and trained psychologist, “I was impacted and inspired, not only by the individual stories of courage and strength but by the immense positivity that each survivor, even those who have sadly lost family members, shared. Initially, I thought that this positive thinking was a technique they learned from the mental health professionals who are helping them to cope and survive. But, in fact I learned that this is the way that these individuals are surviving. Many people who live in Israel are the descendants of survivors who faced persecution in other countries. The people of Israel live and have lived with tremendous threat each day, but they are survivors and have a strong commitment to thriving in the land of Israel.”

Packed audience at JKHA/RKYHS.

The speakers included Rachel Edri, aka the “Cookie Bubby,” and her son Evyatar. Rachel was held hostage by five Hamas terrorists and she distracted them for nearly 20 hours until police commandos, including Evyatar, stormed the house, saving Rachel and her husband David (who unfortunately passed away three weeks ago). Rachel’s Simchat Torah hospitality, including her cookies, diverted their attention and stopped the terrorists from moving onto other homes. Evyatar told the audience that he and his mother will continue to tell their story and let people know that their spirit has not been broken.

Mordechay Shenvald, a reservist tank commander, has recuperated from being hit by an anti-tank RPG missile that broke 11 ribs. In the devastating attack, he lost four friends who were fellow officers. An incredibly gifted musician, Mordechay shared his powerful story while interspersing it with stirring violin performances. In recounting his story, Mordechay shared that while in the hospital recuperating, he had the opportunity to play his violin with many talented Israeli musicians, and this provided tremendous comfort during his rehabilitation.

Orna and Asher Naim, the parents of Amir, who was killed defending Kibbutz Erez, just 800 meters from Gaza, shared his story of heroism. An army officer, Amir, along with three members of the security team, defended the kibbutz from 40 terrorists without assistance from the Israeli army. Amir’s wife is expecting their first child, a son, be”H within the next few weeks.

Evyatar and Rachel Edri

Shlomo Hammer’s family made aliyah from Teaneck when he was a teenager. He served in the 551st brigade, which tragically lost 13 soldiers while fighting in Gaza. Shlomo fought valiantly for three consecutive months in Gaza with no break. He conveyed his appreciation to the Gush Etzion Foundation for providing financial and emotional support to his family both during his absence and since his return.

Michal Greenglick, the sister of singing sensation Shauli Greenglick, shared poignant words. Shauli, who put his rising singing career on hold to fight in Gaza, was killed in combat. A member of the Nahal Brigade’s 931st Battalion, he had just auditioned on Israel’s popular series, “The Next Star.” Michal conveyed her message on behalf of the many siblings who have lost loved ones in the recent and past wars. She pointed out the strength she received from the other heroes who told their stories, and from the members of the audience, stating that their love and support has helped her to heal during this difficult time.

Singer Shlomo Zichel, an IDF reservist recently returned from fighting in Gaza, is a gifted musician who is the grandson of Cantor Naftali Hershtik and nephew of Cantor Netanel Hershtik. He conveyed his message through song.

The Gush Etzion Foundation is using funds raised from the tour to build a Resilience Center to provide the much-needed mental health support to the returned hostages and brave soldiers, in addition to the young children, fearful teens and other traumatized victims of Oct. 7 and the ongoing war.

“Am Yisroel is grateful for your help to support their healing after Oct. 7,” remarked Gabi Harow, CEO of the Gush Etzion Foundation. “Though the people of Israel are very resilient, the mental health needs of everyone impacted by Oct. 7 and the ongoing war are only beginning to rise to the surface, and we will be there to help them.”

To make a donation to the Resilience Center, visit:

www.peach-in.com/cmp/MGsVu0vl6 or contact Harow at the Gush Etzion Foundation, [email protected].

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