Federation’s Temporary Hostage Sign Stands Tall For All

Tags: Federation, Israel, Overseas, Arts

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

For 180 days, a 15-foot-tall and 10-foot-wide ribbon displaying the faces of the 240 hostages will be visible outside the Jewish Federation of Cleveland building at 25701 Science Park Drive in Beachwood.

The ribbon was installed on Dec. 13 by Adam Building Company and was created by local Judaic artist Nancy Schwartz-Katz with the help of Sharon Rosenbaum, a member of the executive committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s board of trustees.

To commemorate the ribbon being installed, a community event was held on Dec. 17 with over a hundred people attending.

Sharon Rosenbaum, from left, member of the executive committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s board of trustees; Nancy Schwartz-Katz, Judaic artist and designer of the ribbon; Roee Perry, project manager at Adam Building Company, and Debbie Yasinow, director of Cleveland Israel Arts connection at the Federation, stand beside the 15-by-10-foot-wide ribbon on Dec. 14. The ribbon has the faces of the 240 hostages which can be seen from both sides of Richmond Road at 25701 Science Park Drive in Beachwood. CJN Photo / Alexandra Golden

“When this piece of artwork went up, it was really to take our hearts that are so broken about the hostages and put something there to really put it front and center and make sure that we are remembering (them),” Susan Borison, chair of Federation’s community relations committee, told the Cleveland Jewish News on Dec. 19.

Each person who attended received the name of a hostage to read and be honored “for a moment,” Borison said. Although the sign has the faces of the 240 hostages, the names that were read were only of the hostages still being held in Gaza, she said.

Borison said that someone took the name they read and looked up more information about the hostage when they got home to feel like “that person is now their person.”

“It was very powerful, and I think we’re all walking around with heavy hearts,” she said. “When we come together as a community, it feels like there’s more chance, more power, more love and more fear, frankly. And we’re all together sharing those emotions together.”

Beachwood City Council approved the sign on Nov. 20. The sign is still the same design with the original 240 faces, even though more than 100 hostages have been released.

“They still need a face (and) they still need to be heard,” Schwartz-Katz told the CJN on Dec. 13. “They were tortured (and) they were taken captive. Their faces still need to be seen as what the atrocities of Oct. 7 were.”

Beachwood council members, including President Alec Isaacson, Vice President Eric Synenberg, Joshua Mintz, Barbara Bellin Janovitz and June Taylor, attended the event on Dec. 17.

“(Getting the sign approved) meant so much to everyone,” Borison said. “Everyone went up to them afterwords and thanked them. It was just really a very powerful meaningful experience.”

Federation President Erika B. Rudin-Luria welcomed the attendees and opened with remarks about the hostages and the artwork created by Rosenbaum and Schwartz-Katz.

Binyomin Kleinman, Alain de Wolff, and Dave Matkowsky sang prayers and songs and ended with “Hatikvah.” And a lone solider mother, Adena Kleinman, whose child was on the front line on Oct.7, read a Mishaberach prayer for the hostages in Hebrew and English.

The most important message that leadership from the Federation, who have been over to Israel and talked to hostage families, has heard is “please don’t forget our loved ones,” Debbie Yasinow, director of Cleveland Israel Arts connection at the Federation, told the CJN.

“Even for the ones that are home, they’re going to suffer for the rest of their lives, probably, and we need to keep them in our hearts and help them in any way we can with dealing with their post-traumatic stress,” Yasinow said.

To donate to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Israel Emergency Campaign, visit jewishcleveland.org.

Learn More: Federation, Israel, Overseas, Arts