Sun. May 26th, 2024
alert-–-rabbi-to-judith-and-natalie-raanan-–-us-mom-and-daughter-freed-by-hamas-–-says-his-congregation’s-‘prayers-were-answered’-and-‘the-biggest-party’-is-being-planned-for-their-returnAlert – Rabbi to Judith and Natalie Raanan – US mom and daughter freed by Hamas – says his congregation’s ‘prayers were answered’ and ‘the biggest party’ is being planned for their return

The release of Judith and Natalie Raanan, two American hostages kidnapped during a bloody massacre in Israel two weeks ago by Hamas terrorists, is ‘beyond a miracle’, the family’s rabbi has told AlertContent.com.

Speaking at his home in Evanston, the former detainees’ hometown just outside Chicago, Rabbi Meir Hecht, 42, said their freedom was a sign that ‘the power of light always prevails over evil and darkness’.

Judith, a 59-year-old artist who was an ever-present worshipper at the rabbi’s synagogue, and her daughter Natalie, 17, were handed over to officials from the Red Cross on Friday after spending two weeks in captivity in Gaza.

Hecht, who leads the Chabad of Evanston congregation, said the local Jewish community rallied around to pray for them and vowed to throw ‘the biggest party’ once they are back in the U.S.

‘We believe that our prayers were heard on high, and the release of Judith and Natalie is beyond a miracle,’ he said in an interview on Saturday night at the end of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

‘Our community really stepped up to the plate during this time to spread the knowledge of who these special people are,’ he said.

‘We believe that our prayers were heard on high, and the release of Judith and Natalie is beyond a miracle,’ said Rabbi Meir Hecht, Judith and Natalie’s hometown rabbi

The two American women, Natalie Raanan (left) and Judith Raanan (right), were released from Palestinian Hamas terrorists late last week after being taken captive on October 7 while visiting Israel

‘So, the world knew that innocent, kind neighbors of ours here in Illinois were hostages in Gaza.

‘At the same time, we have deep inner pain that there are still over 200 plus hostages in the hands of Hamas terrorists,’ he said.

‘The terrorists want us to lose our hope. But we will never lose our hope. On the contrary, we strengthen each other; we strengthen our resolve. We give it all we got.’

The 42-year-old, who studied at a Yeshiva, a Jewish religious school, in Israel between 1999 and 2000, said his congregation was already looking forward to welcoming the two women back to Evanston.

‘I want to throw the greatest celebration for them when they come home, invite the whole community and welcome them in the grandest way possible,’ he told AlertContent.com. ‘It will be the biggest party that I’ve ever thrown.’

Hecht’s wife Yehudis, 40, said Judith was ‘like an extended family member’ for many in the Jewish community in Evanston.

‘She was always there to show love and to care and think about how she could help,’ she said, explaining that the 59-year-old artist would often drop off gifts for members of the congregation.

Yehudis, who shared some exclusive pictures of Judith’s paintings with AlertContent.com, explained how she had struggled to cope with the trauma of having her friends seized by Hamas.

‘Obviously I was not able to sleep because (their kidnapping) was on our minds the whole time and we kept seeing images online of what took place just kept playing before my eyes.

‘It was hard to just have a peaceful moment when you don’t know what is going on and you see how barbaric these terrorists behaved. It was excruciating.’

‘I want to throw the greatest celebration for them when they come home, invite the whole community and welcome them in the grandest way possible,’ Hecht told AlertContent.com

Judith Raanan with some of her art work before her terror ordeal with Hamas terrorists – Raanan is known as a warm and vibrant member of her community at home

AlertContent.com confirmed that the two hostages are Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan, 17, a mother and daughter from Chicago who were visiting Israel for a relative’s birthday when they were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists

Judith’s ex-husband Uri Raanan, the father of Natalie, has said that both former hostages could be back in the United States early next week in time for Natalie to celebrate her 18th birthday on Tuesday.

AlertContent.com understands that both are still in Israel and are taking part in a debrief with U.S. and Israeli intelligence services in the hope of picking up some clues that could help free the other hostages snatched a fortnight ago.

‘She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,’ he said of his daughter when he spoke to the Associated Press on Friday. ‘I’m in tears, and I feel very, very good.”

Knowing Natalie may be able to celebrate her big day at home with family and friends feels ‘wonderful. The best news,’ the 71-year-old added.

Judith and Natalie Raanan had been in Israel to celebrate a relative’s birthday and the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah when they were taken hostage by Hamas during terrorist attacks that left more than 1,400 people dead in the worst attack on civilians in the state’s history.

The murderous rampage by Islamist gunmen, who broke through the Jewish State’s border barrier with Gaza, has sparked a war between Israel and the terrorist organization and its sister group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Axios reported on Saturday that Biden has urged the Israeli government to delay its ground offensive until it has a long-term strategy to avoid a drawn-out conflict that could spill over across the region.

The report said that the U.S. president is concerned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no plan for what to do with Gaza once Hamas have been removed from power.

Raanan, 59, with more of her artwork. Community leaders say she is someone who is constantly checking in on others and bringing them gifts – including her artwork

Natalie Raanan was visiting family for the High Holidays with her mother, Judith, when the assault began on Saturday. Relatives had not heard from either woman until the news came Friday that they were being released 

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military warned civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate to the enclave’s south as it continued a series of airstrikes against what it says are terrorist targets.

One of those strikes accidentally landed inside Egypt, prompting the Israel Defense Forces to issue a statement admitting their error.

‘The incident is being investigated and the details are under review. The IDF expresses sorrow regarding the incident,’ it said.

Israel has amassed tens of thousands of troops and military hardware at the frontier ahead of the anticipated ground invasion aimed at wiping out Hamas.

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