Charlie Cytron-Walker

Colleyville Survivors Embrace Families of Hostages

The following is offered with love by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Jeff Cohen, Lawrence Schwartz, and Shane Woodward — the four survivors of the 11-hour hostage incident that took place in Colleyville, TX on January 15, 2022 — the four of us and all of our families.

* * *

To all Israelis and people from all nations who have had family members taken hostage by Hamas:

Our situation was completely different. We were held for only 11 hours inside our Jewish home. The one holding us hostage wanted something tangible. Throughout our ordeal, law enforcement agents were watching and listening to everything and they were just outside, waiting for us to escape.

We know that the situation for you and your loved ones is exponentially more dire. We know that words alone cannot bring comfort. We know that hope can seem so distant. We know that every moment could mean devastation or elation. We can imagine the pain of this terrible uncertainty. And we have no idea what it’s like to experience this day after day for almost three weeks, on top of all of the trauma and the horror.

And we are with you, heart and soul. We’ve never met and you are our family. We are with you in the roller coaster of despair and darkness, with only glimpses of hope. We rejoice in the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan, Nurit Cooper, and Yocheved Lifshitz. And we, along with millions of Jews around the world and millions more from many backgrounds, are lobbying and praying and sending love and support, united by the idea that you, too, will be reunited with your loved ones. We call on the governments of the world to not rest until all hostages have been rescued or released.

Our prayer for you is the prayer we’ve offered for our people and our families in every generation:

May God bless you and protect you and your loved ones.
May God’s light and compassion shine on you and your loved ones.
May God grant you and your loved ones peace – the peace that can only come when you have your loved ones safely back in your arms.

יברכך ה’ וישמרך – אתם ואהוביכם;   יאר ה’ פניו אליך ויחנך – אתם ואהוביכם;   ישא ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום – השלום שיכול להגיע רק כשיש לך את אהוביך בחזרה בידייך בבטחון.

About the Author
Charlie Cytron-Walker is the Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, NC and special advisor to the ADL. On 1/15/22, Rabbi Charlie and three congregants were held hostage in Colleyville, TX, escaping when Rabbi Charlie threw a chair at the gunman. He has spoken at the White House, testified before the U.S. House and Senate Committees, has been published, interviewed, and/or profiled in the NYT, WSJ, CNN, CBS, etc.
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