COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Members of the Columbus Jewish community are spreading a message of unity after the last few days of violence in Israel and Gaza.
Those NBC4 spoke with say the last few days have been scary and very hard, whether that’s seeing the news from afar or speaking with loved ones living and fighting on the front lines in Israel.
One person NBC4 spoke with has family in Columbus and is spending a year in Israel; she decided to stay when the violence broke out.
“I don’t want the enemy Hamas to win the psychological war and use social media to try to continue to frighten us and intimidate us,” Hadassa, who is a student in Israel, said.
When the sirens went off on Saturday Hadassa had to run to shelter.
“We just sat there and just prayed that everything was okay. And I heard the booms and I heard the rockets and it was at first a state of confusion because we weren’t sure what was going on,” Hadassa said.
She had the chance to leave Israel, but said she wanted to stay for her country. It’s something her grandparents, Julia and Philip, here in Columbus, say makes them very proud.
“It’s been very scary for her. We’re very close to her. She’s the oldest of our 19 grandchildren and she was born right here at The Ohio State University Hospital,” Julia said.
Hadassa isn’t their only family member in Israel right now.
“It’s been very scary for us. We, of course, we’re concerned about our many family and friends in Israel,” Julia said.
“We were just shocked by the brutality of what happened,” Philip said.
They’ve all seen people in Israel get called up to fight.
“I even saw my neighbors being drafted to the army so that was so emotional. And it was just petrifying,” Hadassa said.
That’s something Bexley resident Kyle Katz knows all too well.
“I’ve got nieces and nephews who had to put down their books to take up arms. They’re on the Gaza border. They’re now heading north to Lebanon, somewhere in command centers, but they’ve all been mobilized,” Katz said.
He could not share photos of them for their protection.
“I pray that my family comes home alive, and I pray that when they do, they’re able to come home with humanity,” Katz said.
Hadassa shared that she is seeing a lot of unity and resilience from the people in Israel such as waiting in lines to donate blood and packing food and cookies for soldiers.