NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Rabbi Ron Koas at Beth El Temple says the Jewish community is so tight knit, they all know someone who has been killed or taken hostage. For him, it’s his girlfriend’s four family members that include children.
The faces of the missing—taken hostage by Hamas militants, and each day thought of and prayed for by those here at Congregation Beth El. There are just a small number represented here, but as Rabbi Ron Koas puts it, each one has their own story.
“And they are dear to our hearts, they are all one big family, and that’s how we feel,” Koas said.
The horror, beyond his comprehension.
“You see little kids, three years old, you see five years old, I mean, it’s heartbreaking.”
Among those, four family members related to his girlfriend, Stacey, who lives in New York and has asked that we not point them out on camera. Stacey learned the news from a cousin the day after the Oct. 7 attacks.
“She basically started crying, left the sanctuary, went outside to walk in nature. And then at 1, when I got home, basically she told me that she vomited and could not think. She threw up, and it was very hard for her.”
Those family members were at the concert on Oct. 7 where Hamas militants conducted a surprise attack, killing more than 1,400 people. Koas did his best to remain stoic, but some feelings cannot be suppressed.
“As a spiritual leader of the synagogue, I didn’t let myself cry,” Koas said. “But this morning, I sat on my bed and I started crying like a baby because I couldn’t stop my tears.”
The last time Stacey saw her family was when she visited Israel twice this past summer. Koas considered going to Israel, but was told by family his duty is to stay here. When asked if Stacey is optimistic about her family’s future …
“We have to be optimistic, we have to be optimistic because that’s the only thing we can do,” Koas said. “We can just have hope.”
He and two local reverends are inviting those in the non-Jewish community to come out and attend a worship service and discussion about what is happening overseas. That will be at 5 p.m. Sunday at Beth El Temple. Everyone is invited regardless of their religious views.