Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie, visiting family in Israel for the Jewish Holidays, are among the missing following the terrorist invasion of Israel by Hamas militants.
Judith’s rabbi, Dov Hillel Klein, of Evanston Chabad, said, “Our sense right now is they are being held as hostages” along with more than 100 others (mostly Israelis), probably in the Hamas stronghold of Gaza.
Klein told Evanston Now that Judith and Natalie “were in the shelter when the firing started” on Saturday, in a small kibbutz called Nahal Oz, about 1.5 miles from the Gaza border.
“That’s the last we heard from them,” the rabbi added.
He also noted that two other members of Evanston Chabad were also in Israel when the invasion began, although they were not next to Gaza like the Raanans.
One of those congregants “was able to get out” by flying to Dubai, and then to Montreal “where he just landed at 8:30 this morning [October 11].”
The other is safe, near Jerusalem, but cannot get home because U.S. airlines serving Tel Aviv have suspended service.
Klein said he’s known Judith, an Evanston resident, for 15 years, and described her as “unbelievably kind, a woman who cares about others.”
Daughter Natalie is a recent graduate of Deerfield High School.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) said, “This weekend, my team and I received the horrifying news that two of my constituents… are missing and are believed to have been abducted.”
The statement said Schakowsky’s office immediately reached out to the State Department, which is looking into the case.
Schakowsky added that she will do whatever she can to “ensure the safe and immediate return” of the apparent abductees.
“We must all stand united and unequivocally condemn the vicious attacks carried out by Hamas,” the Representative said.
Beyond that, however, there is no specific information about the fate of the Evanston mom and her daughter.
The White House has said that 22 U.S. citizens are now confirmed dead, and 17 others are missing.
Rabbi Klein said the “level of barbarism” by Hamas invaders is like “a page out of the Holocaust.”
Rabbi Klein said Judith is a person filled with “a tremendous amount of hope. She’ll make it through this.”
“You’ve gotta pray for the best.”