More than 2,500 women gathered in Jerusalem on the evening of Jan. 9, and hundreds more joined from around the world via livestream, to ignite the power of women’s prayer and cry out for mercy for the hostages abducted by Hamas who remain in captivity, and for the soldiers wounded and killed in battle daily, and their suffering, shattered families.
The event, titled “A Cry Out to the Heavens” was organized by Kesher Yehudi, and co-sponsored by Thank you Hashem and the Jerusalem Municipality. Kesher Yehudi’s mission is to unify Israeli society by connecting religious and secular Jews through creating deep ongoing relationships between secular and religious Jews around their Jewish heritage. Founder and director Tzili Schneider, timed the evening of prayer for Rosh Chodesh, the eve of the new month of Shevat.
“Now is the time for us to cry out together,” she said. “Not only have we just reached three months since October 7th, but this is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, which is an acronym for “שנשמע בשורות טובות” [“we should hear good news”]. This is a day of great prayers, capable of salvation. We have to do this now to shake our people and harness the strong feminine power of a woman’s tears. … The strength of a woman’s tears does not go unanswered.”
The emotional evening included soul-stirring music, heartfelt Tehillim (“Psalms”) and uplifting messages from HaGaon HaRav Meir Zvi Bergman, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, and Rabbi Shmuel Alpha, Shlita. HaGaon HaMekubal Harav Yaakov Ades, Shlit’a, led the women in storming the gates of heaven with his unique and noted approach to prayer.
The evening also included a panel of women who have endured the unimaginable in the last three months, with heroic and inspiring emunah and bitachon. Shelly Shem Tov, mother of 21-year-old Omer who is still in captivity in Gaza, shared how she maintains her emunah by going into Omer’s bedroom each day to recite a chapter of Tehillim and letting him know what day it is.
Tamar Mittelman’s 20-year-old son David, z”l, fell in battle on Kibbutz Kissufim on Oct. 7. She spoke about joining the courageous women who have lost children to terror and war, and that her son is now with HaKodesh Baruch Hu, free from danger.
Eilat Shachar survived the Oct. 7 massacre in a way she only describes as an open and revealed miracle. She shared with the packed event hall at Binyanei Hauma that she hid in a grapefruit tree saying the Shema over and over again like a mantra until she fainted. “I didn’t know that I had been shot in the head by Hamas. I was unconscious for three hours, but the terrorists must have assumed I was dead,” she recounted. Despite losing her husband Shai that day and left to raise their four children alone, she only speaks of gratitude that HaKodesh Baruch spared one parent to raise their family.
Mrs. Schneider concluded the uplifting evening with a call to those attending, watching and to all women everywhere: “Like Rachel, our mother, whose cries shake the Throne of Honor and will ultimately convince the Holy One, Blessed be He, to bring the people back from exile, the righteous women now, in days of great sorrow and punishment, will stand before the Kisei HaKavod, and once again ask for mercy and for the Holy One, Blessed be He, to shelter the nation of Israel.”