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Thousands Rally at U.N. Marking 100 Days of Hostages’ Captivity

Crowd at Jan. 12 rally.
(Credit: Judith Falk)

On Jan. 12, thousands attended a demonstration outside of the United Nations demanding the release of the hostages who have been captive by Hamas for over 100 days. Demonstration participants carried both Israeli and American flags, held hostage posters high, and often broke out in loud cries of “bring them home now.”

Those in attendance included public officials, rabbis, relatives of hostages’ families, and 13-year- old released hostage Hila Rotem Shoshani.

In Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s address to the crowd, he stated: “We are here for one reason and one reason only, to speak in one voice, so the whole world can hear … that we must bring the hostages, all of the hostages, home.” He continued, “The world unfortunately moves on quickly from tragedy, but we are here today because we know we cannot move on from the attacks of October 7th 100 days ago, so long as any hostage remains captive by the evil, vicious, terrorist organization Hamas.”

Schumer proclaimed, “I am using my power as majority leader to do everything to bring them home. I have talked to the President and the Chief of Staff and National Security Advisors. We are not going to let anyone in Washington forget the hostages until they are all home.”

Noting that his name “Schumer” is from the Hebrew word of “shomer” or “guardian,” the senator stated that “we are all guardians. We are all going to work and not stop working until the hostages come home.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul similarly expressed strong resolve to bring the hostages home. “There’s no way that 100 days [after October 7th] we would have thought we would be standing here today demanding the return of those hostages.”

Hostage poster of Gadi Moses, carried by his family. (Credit: Judith Falk)

Stated Hochul, “Hamas is a terrorist organization that must be stopped because if we don’t stop them … they will continue their scourge to destroy the Jewish people and others.” She added, “The people of Israel have a right to defend themselves, they have a right to bring the hostages home. And we as American citizens must stand in solidarity with them.”

Hochul concluded by stating, “I have one message. I want the hostages brought home, I want them brought home now, and I want the rest of the world to start saying the same thing because it is barbaric and inhumane to hold them one day longer.”

That barbarity was addressed by 13-year-old released hostage Hila Rotem Shoshani. The brave Shoshani, who was taken hostage from Kibbutz Be’eri, stood in front of the crowd and stated “Life as a hostage in Gaza is not life; it’s hell. I came all the way here to ask the whole world [to] help us bring back all of the hostages. We can’t leave them there. Their families are waiting for them. Bring them home.”

Relatives of hostages similarly spoke of the hellish conditions to which the hostages are subjected.

Yair Moses is the son of released 77-year-old hostage Margalit Moses and current 79-year-old hostage Gadi Moses. Yair recounted that Margalit spent 49 days underground in darkness, with little food or medicine, deprived of the breathing machine which she needed to sleep, and unaware of what happened to her family. Breaking down in tears, Yair said that his mother is now back home trying to recover.

As to Gadi, Yair stated that on Dec. 19 Islamic Jihad released a video of him in which his father looked very thin, exhausted and 10 years older than he did months ago. “It’s clear to everyone that he’s being kept in terrible conditions.”

Yair stated, “Time is running out. And the longer they stay there, the greater the risk to their lives.”

Sign carried at rally, 100 Days in Hell. (Credit: Judith Falk)

Addressing the crowd and all those who support the hostages’ families, Yair emotionally thanked the “people who don’t know us personally but have mobilized for this effort, for this most important mission of bringing our loved ones back home from hell.”

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, senior rabbi of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, made a thoughtful and poignant analogy to this week’s Torah reading, describing it as “the first rally to redeem captive Israelites.” At that rally, Pharaoh refused Moses’ plea to “Let my people go.”

Noting that “The outcome of that rally has not come to an end. Pharoah is not ready to capitulate.” Rabbi Cosgrove said “We stand here today to declare let our people go.

Bring Them Home Now.”

Judith Falk is the creator of the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook Group. You can follow her on instagram @upperwestsideshtetl. She is a lawyer by day and a former legal reporter.

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