Global hour of Jewish unity for hostages in Gaza

Israeli families to tell their stories with millions saying the Shema prayer in unison.

Avinatan Or is one of the many still being held hostage in Gaza. Credit: Courtesy of Bring Them Home Now.
Avinatan Or is one of the many still being held hostage in Gaza. Credit: Courtesy of Bring Them Home Now.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum is hosting a global hour of Jewish unity and prayer at the Western Wall, that will be broadcast live worldwide on Thursday, March 21, from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Israel time). The event will give a voice to the hostage families who will be telling their stories on the live broadcast. The event will conclude with a united moment of prayer and solidarity, with millions of Jews from around the world reciting the Shema prayer in unison at 5:30 p.m. Israel time or 11:30 a.m. East Coast time. 

“Our strength is in our unity,” said Chaim Yitzchak Or, the brother of Avinatan Or, who was kidnapped by Hamas and is still being held in Gaza. “We are asking the general public to stand by our side and pray for the speedy release of all the hostages on this special day.”

“The Jewish people live and breathe their heritage,” Or said. “Just like Queen Esther, who was a hostage herself, and sought help by uniting all Jews for a single cause, so to [on Thursday] we will come together and recite the Shema Yisrael prayer on the same day that Esther did. We yearn for the unity of the entire people in a joint prayer to bring about once again the return of all our brothers and sisters held captive by the Hamas terror organization.

“The unity in Esther’s time resulted in a monumental victory over the hatred and antisemitism perpetrated by Haman and we hope for a similar result and the return of our hostages so that they can all be brought home now,” he continued. “Today, we are all Queen Esther.”

“We are asking everyone to get involved, regardless of previous Judaic commitment, or even if you have never prayed before in your life,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “This is the time to come together to share your voice in a global initiative to save the hostages who have been held in captivity for 166 days. This day in history, the Fast of Esther, was one in which Jews who were facing an imminent threat against their lives, came together to pray and they changed history.

“Through our unity, we have a chance to do that again, in our time, and save Jewish hostages who are once again facing an imminent threat to their lives,” Burg said. “We ask everyone to spread the word so that we can reach as many people as possible to pray in unity in the hopes that we can bring the hostages home now.”

The event, which will be hosted on the Dan Family Aish World Center rooftop overlooking the Western Wall and Temple Mount, is held in partnership with major Jewish organizations in Israel and around the world and will be broadcast live at aish.com/GlobalUnity. The Global Hour of Jewish Unity starts at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. East Coast time) with the Shema Yisrael prayer taking place at 5:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. East Coast time.)

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