HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — As the conflict in the Middle East nears the one-week mark, many Jewish people in the Houston area spent Shabbat, or day of rest, showing solidarity with Israel.
At the Shul of Bellaire, there was a prayer mixed with a horrific personal story.
“On Saturday morning, Hamas terrorists took over the town and abducted the entire family, Ella and Dafna, their father, their father’s partner, and the partner’s son, who is 17 years old,” Gil Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman used to live in Houston but was just visiting this week when he learned the terrible news. His relatives, who live in Israel near the Gaza border, were kidnapped. The youngest of Zimmerman’s second cousins, just 8 and 15 years old, are now being held hostage.
“We were able to find two pictures of the girls, Ella and Dafna, being held in a nondescript room, dingy mattress and with captions saying, ‘settler women taken to Gaza,’ as of Saturday,” Zimmerman said.
However, that was almost a week ago.
Many people, with connections to the terrible attacks, gathered for unity and strength Friday night.
“To find comfort in each other, but perhaps more importantly, to send a strong message to our brothers in the Holy Land,” Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky said. “They’re not fighting this alone, but we stand with them, shoulder to shoulder. We’re praying with them. We’re doing what we can from here. We’re sending support.”
Zimmerman, meantime, is hoping for the best possible outcome.
“I hope I get a phone call in 10 minutes, that they’re back safe and sound, being held by their mother,” Zimmerman said.