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Released hostage and families of those still captive join thousands at rally marking 100 days since Oct. 7

(New York Jewish Week) – An Israeli child who was freed from Hamas captivity and relatives of those still held hostage addressed a crowd of thousands outside the United Nations at a rally marking 100 days since the terror group’s Oct. 7 invasion of Israel.

The rally featured Israeli and American flags and the singing of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.” Speeches mentioned Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. But most speakers — including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Sen. Chuck Schumer — focused their remarks on the plight of the hostages.

Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, who was taken hostage from Kibbutz Be’eri, implored the crowd to keep pushing for the hostages’ release. Shoshani was taken captive along with her mother and a friend, and was released in an exchange deal in late November that saw more than 100 hostages go free. Organizers said her speech was the first by a former Israeli captive in the U.S.

“Life as a hostage in Gaza is not life, it is hell. I came all the way here to ask the whole world to help us bring back all of the hostages,” she said. “We can’t leave them there. Their families are waiting for them. Bring them home, please.”

In addition to carrying flags, attendees wore stickers saying, “Today is day 100,” and pins showing photos of the captives. Signs in Hebrew said, “100 days of hell,” and in English, “Let my people go.” At the start of the rally, participants held a moment of silence for the hostages for 100 seconds.

Volunteers in Midtown East’s Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza sold sweatshirts and beanies that said “Bring them home” to raise money for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, one of the central groups advocating for the captives and an organizer of the rally. Organizers estimated that the demonstration drew 2,500 people.

Yair Moses, whose father, Gadi Moses, 79, is held hostage, described his anguish, saying he had been unable to eat or sleep since his father was taken. His voice broke at times during his speech.

“There are other elderly men there, like my father. No one knows if they will be able to recover from this, physically or mentally,” Moses said. “There are young women there. We have already heard witness accounts that tell of the horrors they have gone through and are still going through.”

He added, “Time is running out, and the longer they stay there the greater the risk to their lives.”

Demonstrators rally in support of Hamas hostages near the U.N., Jan. 12, 2024. (Luke Tress)

The demonstration was held in place of weekly Friday morning gatherings outside the home of U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on behalf of the hostages. The rally kicked off a series of events in support of the hostages that will be held throughout the city over the weekend.

From Friday afternoon through Saturday night, an hourglass installation will sit in Times Square symbolizing that “time is running out” — a replica of a display in Tel Aviv.

On Sunday morning, the 100th day since Oct. 7, a “100 Days March” will take place in Central Park. Activists have been holding weekly Sunday running sessions in the park, part of a campaign in New York and other cities dubbed “Run For Their Lives.” Participants in the events will hold photos of the hostages and wear yellow ribbons, a symbol of the captives. The New York run will begin at Central Park West and 90th Street.

Also on Sunday, a separate event lasting most of the day in Washington Square Park will feature musicians playing songs at a yellow piano open to the public in honor of Alon Ohel, a 22-year-old pianist who is being held hostage.

In addition to Hochul and Schumer, a range of public officials, rabbis and Jewish organizational leaders from across the city attended Friday’s rally. The event was co-sponsored by a wide array of U.S. Jewish groups.

Hochul said she had been devastated during a visit to Kfar Aza, one of the communities hardest hit in Hamas’ attack, shortly after Oct. 7. She voiced support for Israel’s campaign against Hamas and decried the lack of attention to hostages in the public sphere.

“Why are not people across this world demanding the freedom of these hostages?” Hochul asked. “Where is the outrage? Where’s the daily coverage of the suffering of the hostages and their families?”

She continued, “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.”

Demonstrators rally in support of Hamas hostages near the U.N., Jan. 12, 2024. (Luke Tress)

The crowd was composed largely of American Jews and included delegations from local Jewish high schools. Some attendees cried and embraced during the speeches. Jewish-Israeli singer Shimon Smith performed the song “Nigmar” (Hebrew for “It’s over”) by Israeli star Idan Amedi, the “Fauda” singer and actor who was badly injured in combat in Gaza this week. Amedi rose to prominence in 2010 with the song “Warrior’s Pain,” about a combat soldier struggling with PTSD.

Ellen Muss and Laura Green attended the rally holding milk cartons with images of the Hamas captives, part of an awareness campaign recalling efforts to locate missing persons. Muss’ carton bore the image of Kfir Bibas, the redheaded baby taken by Hamas who remains held in Gaza and who has become a symbol of the captives.

“We felt a very strong attachment to the hostages and it’s just keeping the awareness alive for everybody that it’s almost 100 days,” Muss said. She was in Israel several weeks ago and visited “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv, an installation in support of the captives next to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where she met the sister of hostage Omri Miran and showed her photos of the milk carton campaign in New York.

“She was so touched to know that we’re still thinking about them,” Muss said. “This could have been you, your sister, your grandmother, and that’s what we have to tell people.”

The post Released hostage and families of those still captive join thousands at rally marking 100 days since Oct. 7 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials

More than 200 Brown University students gathered outside University Hall where roughly 40 students sat inside demanding the school divest from weapons manufacturers amid the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: Amy Russo / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life  center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.

After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.

“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”

In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.

The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.

“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.

A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.

The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, shot a man at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on February 12, 2024. Photo: Twitter

A woman who stormed a church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday with an AR-15 rifle and shot one person before being killed by police was apparently a Hamas supporter, according to details on the incident reported by CNN.

On Monday, the outlet reported that “Free Palestine” was written on the shooter’s rifle.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the shooter has since been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. The woman has an extensive criminal history which includes arrests for marijuana possession, assault, theft, and forgery.

On Sunday afternoon, Moreno walked into the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — an institution famous for being the church of charismatic Christian preacher Joel Osteen — with a child and a gun. Wearing a trench coat and a knapsack, she threatened to have explosives, according to multiple reports. Most of the worshipers in attendance were Hispanic and attending a Spanish language service.

Moreno shot one man, leaving him critically injured, and was shot and killed by Houston Police. A child was also shot during the incident, but police are still unsure of whether they or Moreno are responsible for doing it.

“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,”  Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference later in the day.

An investigation of Moreno’s motives is ongoing.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’

British comedian Paul Currie. Photo: Instagram

A London theater is facing legal action after an Israeli man was hounded out of a comedy show on Saturday night by a comedian performing a one-man show that turned into what some audience members compared to an “antisemitic rally.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said the group was in touch with the Israeli man and other members of the audience who fled from the theater.

“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the CAA spokesperson told London’s Evening Standard news outlet. “These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”

The comedian, Paul Currie, had been performing a one-man show entitled “Shtoom” at London’s Soho Theater. Towards the end of his performance, he retrieved a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag and invited members to stand and applaud.

After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to a man in the second row of the theater and quizzed him over why he had not stood up.

The unnamed man, an Israeli, replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.

As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”

In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: ” Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/ get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”

He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”

The theater eventually apologized, issuing a statement expressing regret an “an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.” It added: “We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”

Currie has remained largely silent since the incident, save for a post on Instagram which quoted Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”  He then added: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”

The post London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’ first appeared on

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