top of page

The Mothers' Cries

Tammy (T-shirt with a picture of Rom) and Galya. (Picture: CFI)

“Nobody in all the world needs to feel like we feel.”

As prayers are answered for the rescue of two hostages, against the odds, after 129 long days, we also remember the agony of those still waiting. We see in the Bible that the God of Israel is most concerned for the mothers who cry to Him on behalf of their children.


Do you remember that Hagar cried out, and the Lord heard? The beautiful Exodus chapter 2, part of the ‘Shemot’ Torah Portion of the beginning of January, this year, includes the cry of the mother of Moshe (Moses) as she entrusted her baby to God as she hid him in the bulrushes. When the dear Son of God Himself was dying, God provided for His Jewish mother by bringing an adopted son alongside her.

Here are four more mothers of Israel, who are crying out to God, and asking us to pray along with them for the release of their precious Jewish boys, still captive in Gaza after 130 days. Jewish tradition is to pray for ‘[name], son/daughter of [mother’s name],’ and at least one of these ladies asked that we also pray that way. The names of the mothers are important. Meet Tammy, Rachel, Shelly, and Sigalit:


Tammy - CFI’s Media Director, Galya Hall (pictured above), met with the mother of Rom Braslavski. Described as ‘a sweet guy with a winning smile,’ the music-loving young man was kidnapped on 7 October after helping to save the lives of others at the Supernova party. In her desperation, Tammy decided to find the office of CFI Jerusalem and ask for help.


“The reason Tammy came to us,” Galya told Paul Calvert at Bethlehem Voice, “is that ever since that terrible day, and ever since her son has been held captive by those monsters, Hamas… can you imagine? How does Tammy live? She cannot function. She cannot think. She doesn’t sleep. She can’t eat. She can’t work."


“This story repeats itself for all the families of the hostages; their lives have literally stopped. And what does that mean, in practical terms? It means they can’t pay their bills; they’re not earning. There’s a lot of financial strain on a lot of these families.”


Galya explains that Tammy heard about CFI from a friend who had been helped by the ministry several years ago and said to Tammy, “You should go and speak to them; maybe they can help you.”


“So we are helping her in that way, but we also promised, and we committed to keeping awareness of Rom alive. Rom was working in security at the party, and when everything happened there, Rom had the chance to leave. He could have left, but he didn’t. He stayed to help other people.


“And afterward, Tammy’s actually been getting a lot of messages from people who Rom actually saved and rescued. If it wasn’t for Rom, they could have been kidnapped themselves, or murdered. Because he stayed, to try and help and rescue as many wounded people as he could, he put himself in harm’s way, and he ended up being kidnapped himself.”


The last time Rom was seen was around 13:30 that fateful afternoon, and then he was taken. Tammy knows nothing more, whether or not he is injured; there has been no information as to his condition in over four months.


Galya stresses the importance of keeping hope alive from the verse in Proverbs 13:12. She has been able to assure Tammy that Christian contacts all over the world are now praying for Rom:

“Obviously, we just pray every day, and we keep our hearts full of hope that he is alive and that Tammy will get her son back home.”

Rachel - All over Jerusalem, one can spot graffiti and posters with the words “Bring Hersh home.” A 23-year-old, again with a beautiful smile, full of zest for life, the dual Israeli-US citizen is clearly a popular guy. But we need him home. His beautiful mom needs him home.


Rachel Goldberg spoke to the recent ICEJ Solidarity Tour Group of pastors and ministry leaders at the Knesset in Jerusalem. With strength, grace, and full of faith, the God-fearing woman bravely addressed the crowd, as she had done from Day 1 of this crisis.


Hersh turned 23 just two days before attending the music festival near the Gaza border. The night before, Hersh told his parents he would go camping with one of his best friends after dinner. As is traditional on Shabbat evening, his parents had blessed him with the priestly blessing (from Numbers 6). Rachel says it was the last thing they did before he left.


“And then when Hersh left that night, he kissed me,” she said. “He kissed my husband, John, and he turned and said, ‘I love you; I’ll see you tomorrow’. And that was 117 [now 130] days ago.”


In Jerusalem, the rocket sirens (unusual for the capital) began around 8 a.m. Being Sabbath-observant, the family would normally keep their phones off, but Rachel said she “knew this was a question of life or death,” and her son was out camping, with rockets falling. So she told her daughters that she would switch on her phone for the first time on a Shabbat, “to make sure the boys are okay.” It was 8.23 a.m. When she turned on her phone, she found two messages from Hersh, the first at 8.11, simply saying

“I love you” and “I’m sorry.”


Twenty-nine young people were crushed into a 5ft by 8ft bomb shelter, trying to take refuge. Aner Shapira, Hersh’s best friend from childhood, managed to keep throwing back grenades that the terrorists were throwing into the shelter. “You only have 4.5 seconds from when a pin is unpinned from a hand grenade until it detonates,” Rachel explained. “He managed to throw out seven. On the eighth, it exploded in his hand, killing him. And when his body was returned to his parents, the remnants of the grenade were still in his hand. Most of those kids were dead. Hamas came to the door and sprayed machine gun fire.” Rachel and the other mothers later heard from the four survivors, who played dead, being hidden under bodies. They recounted that three boys were wounded but alive. Hamas ordered them to stand up, and the eyewitnesses could see that Hersh’s arm, from the left elbow down, had been blown off. “He, like me, is a left-handed young man,” said his mom.


Rachel talked about how Judeo-Christians value life, something for which we sometimes pay a high price. She explained that her favorite groups to talk to are the Christian ones since they are the people who don’t just talk the talk but “show up, get on the plane, and come here.” Rachel asked that the delegates keep talking about the hostages. She quoted Psalm 126: When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,” and she shared how a Christian friend had sent her the verse, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and He will save those who are crushed in spirit.” The friend had added, “I am thinking of Him, and His saving grace, for your beautiful son today."  


“I pray, and I hope all of you pray, that you will get - the next time you see me - to meet my son, Hersh, who will be standing next to me.”

Shelly - Another wonderful and handsome young man, Omer Shem Tov, as a captive himself, kept busy caring for seriously wounded siblings, Maya and Itay, prior to their release in late November. He turned 21 years old in captivity on 31 October.


Omer was also at the Nova Festival and connected with his parents throughout the morning of the 7th, from 6.30 a.m. when the Hamas rockets began falling. At 6:30, he confirmed to his family that he was okay. The last time Shelly spoke to her son was at 8.45 a.m. when he was in a panic and trying to escape from gunshots all around. His sister told him to send his live location. After the call, his parents could see the location of Omer’s phone going towards Gaza, but they didn’t want to believe it and thought perhaps his phone had been stolen.

 “I tried to call him, the phone was ringing, but Omer didn’t answer,” Shelly told delegates at the ICEJ conference. At 8.00 p.m., one of Omer’s friends called Shelly to say, “I’m sorry, but I need to send you a video.” The footage showed Omer and his friends being captured and driven away, handcuffed.


I was shouting to God, says Shelly through her tears: Oh my God, my son! He’s in the hands of terrorists! What will I do now?”


“We are a big family,” Shelly says of the sadly large group of hostages’ family members, desperately waiting, all “in the same crazy situation.


“Our life stopped on Oct 7. It’s a long, long, long nightmare, 118 [now 130] days of nightmare that, you must understand…you know where your son or your daughter slept last night. If you are worried, you can call and ask if they are okay. I know where my son is, and he’s in the hands of terrorists. I don’t know what is his condition. I think nobody in all the world needs to feel like we feel.”


Her youngest son, Shelly said: “We call him our sunshine because, as the sunshine, everybody wants to be near him. So, he’s a good boy; he has a lot of friends, and he loves to love. He loves music. He went to a festival - to dance…and we miss him very much. We are very, very worried about his condition because Omer has asthma and celiac [disease] - and I don’t know if you know how it feels when you can’t breathe - and he doesn’t have his inhaler because nobody, not the Red Cross, nobody, went to see what is their condition.

The two young friends who were held with him and released said that Omer was not in good condition without his medication. One thing that [Itai] told us,” says Shelly, grabbing hold of one positive, “so that I know that Omer has faith with God, and he is strong, is that…Every Friday, from when he was little, he likes to do the kiddush (beginning of Sabbath blessing). And one day, they got their grape juice and they got a bagel with salt, so he took the salt from the bagel. And every Friday, he put a tissue on his head, like a kippa,” to faithfully recite the Sabbath blessings, “in the dark place that he’s in there.”


Shelley says she “knows Omer has faith.” She described a typically messy room of a student boy and said she decided not to tidy it, telling herself, “No, he will come back and arrange it himself. The light is on. Every day [since 7 October], in the morning, I’m going to his room and telling him what the day is today and what is the date today. I’m telling him to be strong and [to have] a lot of faith. I’m praying in his room. And then I [embark on] the mission of my life now - to bring Omer back home… I hope you will tell your community our story. And I hope this nightmare will end soon.” 

Sigalit - It was astonishing to see the peace and composure on the face of this dear woman of faith. Especially when she told members of the media at an event on 30 January that she wasn’t able to eat or sleep, I found myself concluding that she must really be relying on God.


Her dear son, Eliya Cohen, is 26 years old. His name means ‘My God is the Lord’. Eliya “is a marketing person, he loves life, he loves to dance,” Sigalit told journalists. “He has traveled all over the world and has a lot of friends.” Her husband is disabled, and she said that Eliya has always cared for him: “Although he doesn’t live with us at home, he helps with what is needed, has his father’s back.”


Sigalit told the Hebrew newspaper ‘Makor Rishon’: “Two years ago, I went through some kind of crisis, and the only one who managed to wake me up from this crisis was [Eliya]… one day he called and shouted at me, ‘You are a religious woman, a believing woman, so stop being afraid! Whatever God wants is what will happen.’ He was there for me.”


Speaking to Paul at Bethlehem Voice, Sigalit explained that Eliya’s girlfriend, Ziv, only survived by being under a pile of dead bodies - inside the crowded bomb shelter in Kibbutz Re’im, as described by Rachel (above). Alongside Hersh, Eliya was shot and badly wounded, then ripped away from his home, his friends, and his family.


At 10 a.m., Sigalit and her family saw a photo with a logo in Arabic, confirming Eliya had been violently kidnapped. Sigalit asked that we pray “that he will come back soon, and come healthy and alive.”


“It’s very important,” Galya reminds us: “When we’re praying for the hostages, to also pray for their families because they are living through the most unimaginable horror.”


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page