1,000 Unite To Keep Hostages in Spotlight

Tags: Federation, Israel

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Avery Volpe, left, and Tamar Cooper raise flyers of victims kidnapped from Israel during the Jewish Federation of Cleveland's Ratzim Bishvilam walk and run to observe the six-month anniversary of the Oct. 7, 2023 surprise attack by Hamas on Israel. CJN Photo / Courtney Byrnes


Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

On the six-month anniversary of the Oct. 7, 2023 surprise attack by Hamas on Israel, over 1,000 people turned out to walk and run in memory of those killed in Israel or still held hostage in Gaza.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood organized the Ratzim Bishvilam, “Running for Them” event on April 7, which featured a personal story from Natalia Ben Zvi. Her son, Sagiv, 24, was one of the victims of the Nova Music Festival attack on Oct. 7.

“My presence here, sharing his story, is to stand up to the darkness that took him from us – all of us – on that black Shabbat,” Ben Zvi told the crowd gathered in the Federation parking lot. “We are here because we have to bear witness of the horrendous events of Oct. 7. We are obliged to take a stand.”

She recounted her last moments with her son as he came to say goodbye before leaving for the festival and their early morning phone calls as he tried to flee from the attacks. Speaking with the Cleveland Jewish News, Ben Zvi described her son as “special,” with an inward and outward beauty and the biggest heart.

“He was a child of love and a man that knew how to love and be loved,” she told the CJN. “And he would give his life for anyone. And I want people to know Sagiv, because Sagiv is the beautiful face of the beautiful Israel we have to bring back.”

She has traveled throughout the United States to share her family’s story since Oct. 7, with her oldest son, Ran, by her side. And while it was difficult to be away from home on the six-month anniversary of Sagiv’s death, she said it was important to be with the Jewish community here, sharing his story.

Following opening remarks from Dan Zelman, Federation board chair, Beachwood Mayor Justin Berns took to the stage to share his support for Israel and introduce Ben Zvi.

“As we prepare to take to the streets in solidarity and determination, we recognize that the cause we stand for is deeply intertwined with the lives of individuals among us,” Berns told the crowd. “Their stories are living testaments to the urgency of our mission.”

Before the walk began, Federation Young Leadership Division event co-chair Nofar Goshman shared a prayer in English and Hebrew.

Mark Holz, the Federation’s overseas connections committee chair, then explained the route and encouraged attendees to scan the QR codes on their racing bibs to read the story of the corresponding name of one of the Oct. 7 victims.

As the 2-mile run and walk began, participants carried or draped Israeli flags over their shoulders and held signs and flyers bringing awareness to the hostages that still remain in Gaza.

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