By COLlive reporter
Photos: Chaim Tuito
The singing of the Hebrew birthday song “Hayom Yom Huledet” filled the air last week at a special evening organized by Rabbi Chaim Levi and Yehudis Cohen, Directors of Chabad of Loudon County in Virginia.
But it was sung with mixed emotions and the birthday boy wasn’t present.
That’s because the one celebrating his birthday, Tamir, is currently being held in captivity in Gaza after being snatched by Hamas terrorists during their Simchas Torah attack over a month ago.
“Tomorrow, we will celebrate together for Tamir’s birthday,” said Tamir’s father Alon Nimrodi. The crowd gathered, who also have relatives in captivity, responded in joyous song with a heavy heart.
Alon, choked with tears, shared how he received two boxes from the IDF a couple of weeks ago containing personal items of his son.
“It was hard for me to open them,” he described, “and then I saw a small yellow note with three educational principles he wrote for himself. The first: to help as many people as possible. The second: not to harm others. The third: to expand the circle of friends.”
The father recounted the preparations for the next day’s birthday in their residence and the initiative of balloon decorations in his honor.
Subsequently, two children from Kibbutz Be’eri took the stage. Their father was killed, and their mother, suffering from a known illness, was kidnapped.
They described the drama that unfolded, the terrorists breaking into the house, and their personal miracle of rescue after hiding in a safe room. For hours, they were exposed to the terrible ordeal. The children sang an emotional song for their mother with a plea and prayer for her swift release.
The evening concluded the special trip that relatives of the hostages took to the United States, organized by Tzeirei Agudas Chabad of Israel chaired by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Aharonov.
Their visit included a moving visit to pray at the Ohel of the Rebbe in Queens, New York, and a lobbying visit to the U.S. Senate where they asked senators and congress members to help free the hostages.
The group of 250 relatives was scheduled to fly back from Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. But when their flight was delayed, organizers turned to Rabbi and Mrs. Cohen who immediately sprung into action.
“They were looking for a place to host the families for dinner,” Rabbi Cohen told COLlive.com. “They had brought catered food with them, but that’s all they had.”
So he secured the venue where Chabad of Loudon County holds events, and asked them “to go all out and arrange a beautiful dinner, with set tables, flower centerpieces, the works.”
A team of volunteers from Chabad got to work to organize a beautiful and elegant dinner event, all in a matter of hours. Wait staff were called in from New York, and they traveled to Virginia for the dinner.
Dave Manning of Square Feet Coffee, a friend of Chabad, set up a coffee bar for them. Rabbi Sholom Deitsch, Director of Chabad of Northern Virginia, was also in attendance.
Radio host and commentator Mark Levin, a member of Chabad of Loudon County, was told by Rabbi Cohen about the special visit, and he interviewed one of the relatives.
The woman who was interviewed had the opportunity to meet Julie Levin, and so the interview was very emotional and heartfelt.
It was a special evening, despite the delayed flight, that showed the love and concern that Jews all over the world have for their brothers and sisters in captivity.