newsOctober 7

Grandchildren of elderly hostages call for their loved ones to go free

Shlomo Mansour, 86, lived through the Farhud pogrom as a toddler in Baghdad.

Shlomo Mansour, the oldest hostage in Hamas captivity and the only person abducted from Kibbutz Kissufim on Oct. 7. Photo: Courtesy of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum.
Shlomo Mansour, the oldest hostage in Hamas captivity and the only person abducted from Kibbutz Kissufim on Oct. 7. Photo: Courtesy of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum.

“He is the happiest man I know; I fear that he won’t return as the man we knew before,” Noam Safir, 20, from Eilat, told JNS about her grandfather Shlomo Mansour, 86, the oldest hostage in Hamas’s hands.

On Wednesday, Safir took part in an online briefing titled “Passover Without Grandpa.” She shed light on Mansour’s background, the only hostage from Kibbutz Kissufim, situated a bit more than a mile from the Gaza Strip.

Mansour was born in Iraq in 1938 and is recognized as a Holocaust survivor. When he was three years old, he experienced the 1941 Farhud massacre in Baghdad, during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

“Hundreds of Jews were massacred and thousands were injured,” said Safir, “Muslims murdered, raped and slaughtered people.”

It is estimated that at least 180, and perhaps as many as 600, Jews were killed in Baghdad and Basra—with hundreds more wounded. Jewish women were raped and mutilated. Jewish shops and homes were looted and then torched. Synagogues were looted and Torah scrolls burned.

It was an irrevocable blow to Jewish life in Iraq and paved the way for the dissolution of the 2,600-year-old Jewish community 10 years later.

“On October 7, my grandfather experienced a second Holocaust,” Safir said. “Terrorists ransacked his house, killed his dog and he was driven away by his kidnappers in his own car.”

His wife, Mazal, managed to escape to the neighbors’ safe room. 

“It’s very difficult for me to process that he went through the Farhud, made aliyah to live in the Jewish state and then in his own home, it happened again,” said Safir. 

Mansour moved to Israel in 1951 at the age of 13 and settled at Kissufim at the age of 16, where he met his Mazal. Safir described him as a talented carpenter with a creative personality and the happiest man she knows.

“The last holiday I celebrated with him was Rosh Hashanah in September, and the one thing I will be missing this Passover is him,” she said.

Alex Danzig, 75, kidnapped from his home in kibbutz Nir Oz, remains in Gaza. Credit: Courtesy of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum.

‘It burns my heart’

Also participating in the “Passover Without Grandpa” briefing was Talya Danzig, 18, the granddaughter of hostage Alex Danzig, 75, and Mai Albini Peri, 29, the grandson of hostage Chaim Peri, 80.

“My grandfather dedicated his life to researching the Holocaust and Jewish life in Europe before the Second World War. His parents and sister survived the Holocaust,” said Danzig. “Every night, I pray for him, thinking about him. I try to imagine what he feels and it burns my heart.”

Danzig described Alex’s abduction based on information shared by released captives who were held with her grandfather. 

“They were three elderly people taken inside a van with terrorists pointing guns at them on their way into the Gaza Strip. When they arrived, before they were taken into the underground tunnels, they were beaten by an angry crowd,” she said.

When Danzig realized that some captives were able to hear the radio, she wrote a song for her grandfather. “Hopefully he will hear my voice and it will make him stronger. We want our life back, we want our grandfather home, let my grandpa go,” she pleaded on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a rally was held at Tel Aviv’s “Hostage Square” in support of the families’ call for the return of the hostages.

Speakers included Iris Haim, the mother of hostage Yotam Haim, who was accidentally killed while fleeing his captors; Dina Guedalia, the mother of Sgt. 1st Class Yosef Malachi Guedalia, who was killed in action on Oct. 7; Doron Peretz, the father of hostage Daniel Peretz, who was murdered and whose body is being held in Gaza; Ditza Or, the mother of hostage Avinatan Or, who was kidnapped from theNova music festival with his girlfriend, Noa Argamani; and Hamas captivity survivor Moran Stela Yanai.

The Israel-based Tzohar Rabbinical Organization of more than 800 Orthodox rabbis called on Jews worldwide to reserve a place at the Seder table with a picture of one of the captives on the chair. The organization also recommended dedicating the fifth cup of wine during the Seder, traditionally known as Elijah’s Cup, to the hostages and reciting a prayer, reflecting the hope and prayer for communal redemption and freedom.

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