Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Vigil honors Evanston residents taken hostage in Israel as community copes with ongoing violence

Photo courtesy of Rabbi Meir Hecht
Judith (left) and Natalie (right) Raanan. The mother and daughter have been released for “humanitarian reasons,” officials confirmed Friday.

Chabad of Evanston hosted a vigil Thursday night for congregants Judith and Natalie Raanan, who were taken hostage by Hamas while on a trip to southern Israel earlier this week.

According to family members, the mother and daughter were last heard from Sunday while visiting family in Nahal Oz. On Friday, the Israeli government confirmed to family members that Judith and Natalie Raanan had been taken hostage by Hamas, a militant group that launched a surprise attack on Israel Saturday. Israel declared war on the group shortly thereafter and has since launched multiple strikes on Gaza.

More than 3,000 Israelis and Palestinians have been killed in the ensuing violence. In a White House press briefing Thursday, officials confirmed that 14 Americans remain unaccounted for in Israel.

At Thursday’s vigil, community members gathered to share their support and unite in prayer in honor of the Raanan family.

“Together, we strengthen each other, together we fortify our hope and together we pray for Judith, Natalie and all of Israel,” Rabbi Meir Hecht said. “So although our hearts are heavy, tonight we remind each other that hopelessness is one of the goals of terror.”

The capture of Judith and Natalie Raanan, and the violence that has ensued in Israel and Gaza, has prompted Evanston community members to share their support for Israeli, Palestinian and American victims of violence. In a Thursday statement, Mayor Daniel Biss shared his support for the Raanan family, and for all Evanston residents impacted by the violence.

While Biss said it is “morally necessary” to criticize Israel’s past and future actions, empathize with the suffering of the Palestinian people and fight for justice, he condemned individuals and organizations currently addressing this situation “without an unequivocal condemnation of Hamas’s murderous attacks.” 

Throughout the week, Evanston Police Department has maintained an increased police presence around local places of worship and schools, which Biss praised in his Thursday statement.

Two members of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education, Omar Salem and Joey Hailpern, also sent out a letter to community members Thursday evening. In the letter, Salem, who is Palestinian, and Hailpern, who is Jewish, emphasized the importance of condemning violence perpetrated by both Hamas and the Israeli government, and encouraged D65 community members to “show each other compassion and love.”

“The two of us, a Palestinian and a Jew, stand together against violence, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the war that has plagued the Middle East, and the world, for far too long,” the letter reads. “As members of the Board of Education, we see the need to focus on our community and our students. We need everyone to prioritize the well-being of the children in Evanston and Skokie.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lilylcarey

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