Rabbi returns from scene of the ‘horrors of hell’

Israeli soldiers look at photos of people killed and taken captive by Hamas militants during their violent rampage through the Nova music festival in southern Israel, which are displayed at the site of the event, to commemorate the October 7, massacre, near kibbutz Re’im, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

I returned Friday from a four-day visit to Israel, where I walked through the horrors of hell and heard from displaced families and survivors of the Oct 7th massacre. Despite their harrowing experiences, I saw the strength of peace-loving activists dedicated to building bridges.

We went to the site where parents were butchered in front of their children, women were group-raped, and others beheaded. We visited Kfar Aza and prayed at the place where a couple was burnt alive, and children were kidnapped into Gaza. We spoke to survivors who heard the massacre around them and hid for 14 hours before they were rescued. There is no longer a need to take our youth to Poland for them to witness the horrors of anti-Semitism. It happened again in Israel.

One deeply impactful moment was standing behind the Bibas family’s relatives, who faced unspeakable tragedy. The entire family — mom, dad, and two babies — were kidnapped into Gaza. I held a sign of Ariel, a four-year-old, and the person next to me held a sign of a 10-month-old, Kfir. Who kidnaps babies?

As I headed to the airport Thursday, Hamas released a disgusting propaganda video of terrorists informing the father that his wife and children had been killed (still independently unconfirmed). I kept the poster of Ariel and brought it back to America, hoping and praying it wasn’t true.

Yesterday in Brooklyn, I witnessed crowds chanting “Resistance is justified,” referring to the rape and massacre of our people on Oct 7th. They proclaimed that Zionists were not welcome here and that Israel had to go. Images of Kfar Aza and the voices of the victims came to mind. How can this be happening in Brooklyn? Are we safe here?

As we confront rising anti-Semitism, I urge fellow Jews to stand tall, proud, and united. Do not be afraid. Our strength lies in our unity — we are one family, and Am Yisroel Chai!

To those not of the Jewish faith, I implore you not to remain silent. Stand with humanity against hatred, injustice, and denial. Consider visiting Israel, hearing the stories firsthand, and showing solidarity.

Show support for our community during this dark time.

Stand with us!

Rabbi Yaacov Behrman

President, Jewish Future Alliance