Approach of the 100th day…

Memorial to the victims of the Nova Music Festival
Memorial to the victims of the Nova Music Festival - photo taken by Stephanie Z. Bonder

Unimaginable. Unbearable. Unbelievable.

What other words are there to describe the horror of October 7th? What other words can we find to share the agony of the hostages’ confinement in tunnels, apartments, UNRWA schools, and wherever else they may be trapped and tortured? When will the world demand justice? Why is this taking so long?

I’ve just been visiting with relatives of hostages in Israel on a Solidarity Mission with Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America. I went to the “Bring Them Home” headquarters and walked through Hostage Square to see the installations dedicated to the missing. The stories I heard are heartbreaking. Any one of these people could be my cousin, my friend, my mother, father, daughter, or son. There are no words to describe the utter despair that the families are feeling. They are searching for help and answers. They are meeting with leaders in Israel and around the world. They are begging for their family members to come home. They are suffering with loss and pain and trying to bear the horror of what the hostages are living through each and every day. They just want them home.

The civilized world should be demanding justice! It should not only be Israel fighting these terrorists. It should be all humane societies who believe their people should be allowed to live in peace and freedom. There is no context that would make rape and mutilation an acceptable means of protest. There is no context that makes the murder of babies and the incineration of homes with their families inside an acceptable means of revolt. In what world is the kidnapping of elderly grandmothers and grandfathers an acceptable means of freedom fighting? What freedom are these terrorists fighting for? They don’t care about life, they only desire death.

I went to Kfar Aza. I saw the houses of the young adult residents. They were burnt out shells. The idyllic life they were living 95% of the time, was destroyed. The families are broken. There are no lives left. Those who survived the terrorist assault are going to live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. And for what? A terrorist organization that is dedicated to eradicating the state of Israel and the Jewish People? Why doesn’t the world recognize the inhumanity of it all. There are no words.

I went to see Re’im. All those young people dancing in joy, murdered by joyous, animalistic terrorists. I saw their innocent faces. I saw the site. There was no place to run. It could have been my daughters. It could have been my friends. The hundreds who were murdered were trying to live a life of peace and goodness. They were the peaceniks. They were the ones who believed in peace and love. Why were they taken?

Many of the hostages were also the peaceniks. They were building relationships, or so they thought. They were the ones taking Gazans to the hospitals. They were the ones employing Gazans to work on their kibbutzim. They were the ones with a vision of living one day in peace. They were the first ones murdered. Due to the Israelis’ goodness, the Gazans provided Hamas with the blueprints of their kibbutzim. They provided Hamas with the knowledge of their friends and where their friends lived and kept their weapons. The fact the Ofir Libstein was one of the first killed and he was the one who dreamed of living together in peace is simply grotesque. He wanted to build up the area for all the residents. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of others. He was planning to build a factory to employ the Gazans to help them have a better life and see that we could live in peace. The betrayal of this dream is devastating.

On Sunday, January 14th, it will be 100 days of living in Hell for the hostages. It will be 100 days of living in Hell for the families of the hostages. It will be 100 days of living in sadness for all Israelis. It will be 100 days of realizing that the world does not care about Jews, for Jews throughout the Diaspora.

I will use my voice to call on my leaders and the leaders of the free world to demand the release of the hostages. I urge anyone reading this to do the same. The global organizations that are supposed to protect the world are turning a blind eye. The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, are not taking action in support of Israel and the hostages. I am going to continue to do my small part of calling, emailing and writing to demand their release. Please do the same. It could be your family. It could be you. Its almost 100 days. By the time you read this, it probably will be 100 days. What will you say when asked what did you do after October 7th? Take a stand!

About the Author
Stephanie Z. Bonder is a proud Jew and lifelong Zionist. Stephanie studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for her junior year abroad and is currently pursuing her masters in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University Melton School of Education. In her volunteer hours, she is on the National Board of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America where she currently serves as Chair of the Speakers Bureau and team member of the Education and Advocacy division. Stephanie teaches teens and adults on Jewish Peoplehood, Zionism and current events in Israel through her involvement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest and her synagogue, Congregation Agudath Israel. All of her blogs are her own personal opinions and do not represent the organizations with which she is affiliated.
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