A crowd of people showed up late Monday night to warmly welcome relatives of Jewish hostages in Gaza as they arrived for prayer at Rebbe Ohel in Queens, New York. Full story, photos and video
By COLlive reporter
When the buses stopped on Francis Street. In Queens, New York, late Monday night, a large crowd was waiting, eager to greet passengers even without knowing their personal names.
The 250 people who got off the buses were unknown until a month ago when Hamas terrorists kidnapped their relatives during their brutal sweep of Simchas Torah.
Since then, these relatives have been advocating and working for the release of their loved ones from captivity. An important step in this direction was their visit this week to the United States.
The visit was coordinated by Chabad’s Victims of Terrorism Project and Tziri Agudas Chabad of Israel, headed by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Aharonov and sponsored by Chabad philanthropists.
Their first stop was the Rebbe’s Ohel in the ancient Montefiore Cemetery, considered the holiest and most visited Jewish site in North America. They were received lovingly by a large crowd of Jews.
In the Ohel Chabad Lubavitch outdoor tent, they sang Ani Maamin together and listened to Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and Rabbi Yehuda Kerensky, the Rebbe’s secretary and head of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch at the Lubavitch world headquarters.
“Here the rabbi stood several times a month for more than 40 years with bags and bags of prayer that people asked of him,” Rabbi Kerensky said.
“Since the Rebbe’s death 30 years ago, this has become the nerve center of prayer for the entire Diaspora Jewish nation. Millions of years have been thrown at this part. Countless prayers poured out to heaven. This is actually sacred and hollow ground.
“Klal Yisrael joins you in this time of terrible crisis. We spend our days and nights praying that your loved ones will return to you safe and sound,” concluding his words by saying: “May we recite the blessings of Hanukkah for the miracles “in those days and in these times.”
The families then entered the ohel itself to say their private prayers, and Rabbi Aharonov read the public prayer on their behalf. It was a very emotional and unforgettable experience for both the families and those who chose to be there.
On Tuesday, the families will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will attend the massive parade on the National Mall. It will call for support for Israel in its fight against terrorism, the release of hostages, and the rise of anti-Semitism in America.
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