Impact of Attack on Israel on Illinois Families

The deadly and malicious surprise assault on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas has resulted in the death of over 1,200 Israelis and that number continues to rise as the war rages on. Many of the deceased include innocent men, women, and children, and hundreds more reportedly have been taken as captives or hostages. The U.S. State Department, as of October 12, has confirmed the deaths of at least 27 U.S. citizens, and 17 Americans remain unaccounted for. More than 100 Israelis are estimated to be held hostage in Gaza. 

A mother and daughter from Evanston are believed to be among the hostages. Judith and Natalie Ranaan were visiting with Judith’s mother, who lives in a small town in southern Israel before their presumed capture. They are feared to have been captured by Hamas, as terrorists in the region reportedly launched door-to-door attacks on civilians in the area. 

Chicago area residents with family in Israel and Gaza are praying for the safety of their relatives. A prayer gathering was held recently at the Chicago Sinai Congregation in the Loop, as families are fearful that loved ones in Israel are among the hostages held captive by Hamas militants. A Chicago police officer and his brother-in-law are mourning the loss of 10 family members in Gaza after their home was bombed. Among the survivors are 2-year-old twins and a 7-year-old boy who is in a coma with brain damage. 

A Peoria husband and wife were visiting family members, including their son and grandchildren, in Israel when the deadly attacks occurred. The region the group is staying at is less than 12 miles north of the Gaza Strip. Paul Beiersdorf, who works part-time at Richwoods High School, is quoted in media reports as saying the area they are at is ‘relatively safe,’ though rockets have struck about three blocks from their home. Beiersdorf added that the family is staying close to home, and Israeli citizens are tense and angry as the war continues. 

A couple from Godfrey are stranded in Israel, with their daughter back home working to get them out. Danny and Carmen Rowe embarked on a 10-day vacation with multiple church groups, and within hours of their arrival in Tel Aviv the attacks began. The Rowes are trying to flee the country, but flights continue to be cancelled. The days since the attacks have been filled with air raid sirens and bunkering down in Tel Aviv. The Rowes’ daughter, Jenni Rowe Beck, has been in constant communication with them by phone since they have been stranded. 

More than 100 people rallied at the University of Illinois Main Quad in Champaign recently. The group showed support for Israel, with students, local religious leaders, and members of Jewish organizations all speaking. A U of I student noted that he has family in Israel, and they were locked in bomb shelters in the aftermath of the attacks. 

Support is needed to help the people of Israel and those fighting the battle on the ground. There are ways to donate online, including at the Jewish United Fund website