Temple draws attention to hostages with super-sized milk carton

Photo By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
A super sized milk carton features an Israel hostage held by Hamas.

More than 300 people recently gathered on the front lawn of the B’nai Shalom temple on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange for the unveiling of a nine-foot tall, 300 pound milk carton with images of hostages.

The milk carton with pictures of hostages held by Hamas mimics the advertisements of missing children that were on milk cartons from the early 1980s until the late 1990s.

The carton will be displayed on the lawn of B’nai Shalom, and then travel to other locations as part of a hostage awareness campaign. In addition, there were also personal video messages shared on a large screen from family members of kidnapped hostages.

The unveiling took place on the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer, which symbolizes the resilience of the Jewish spirit, celebrated with food, songs of prayer on guitar, and a bonfire.

Other activities included Halah dough making and braiding, making your own tzedakah box, and tambourine decorating—symbolic of Israelites leaving Egypt, creating song and appreciation.

While the day was sunny and bright, the event was a reminder that more than 128 individuals, including children, women, the injured and elderly, have been held hostage in Gaza since Oct 7. On that day, 1,200 Israeli civilians were murdered, raped, tortured, and taken hostage. Five of those hostages still in Gaza are also U.S. citizens. An armed conflict has been ongoing since then between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups with wide-spread destruction and thousands more casualties.
“The world is starting to forget,” said Moshe Glick. “We really want to make it public. It’s a horrific thing. The world is upside down. Innocent civilians held in unimaginable conditions. The deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Eve Goldberg of Livingston was celebrating Lag B’Omer, while remembering the hostages still being held in Gaza.

“We’re holding joy and pain together,” she said.

Davida Stadtmauer of West Orange also had mixed feelings.

“Both a celebration and a cause to remember,” she said. “Hostages have been on our minds.” Stadtmauer has been to Israel twice since the Oct. 7 attack, volunteering and making sandwiches for soldiers during Passover.

“We are very moved about the plight of the hostages,” said Larry Greenwald of West Orange.

“We think about them every day. We are hopeful the United States and Israel can work together to defeat Hamas and bring home hostages.”

Renee Glick introduced volunteers who came forward to recite the names of the 128 hostages, one by one.

Jonah, age 11, was one of the volunteers who read the names of the hostages. He told his mom, Jenn Grinberg, that he felt empathy for them.

“We want to bring them all home,” Grinberg said.

“Kids, my age, are getting kidnapped and murdered,” Jonah added.

Barbara Listhaus said everyone with a connection to a hostage is suffering.

“Each person is a son, daughter, mother, father, grandchild, grandparent, cousin, friend, neighbor, and co-worker,” she said.

Photo By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
A super sized milk carton features an Israel family held hostage by Hamas.

During the video presentation, Ilay David talks about his brother, Evyatar David, 23. Evyatar was dancing with friends at the Nova Festival when Hamas attacked. Two of Evyatar’s friends were murdered; and one escaped. Evyatar is being held hostage.

“My brother was a very talented guitar player, very committed to guitar,” Ilay said in the video. “He can sit for hours trying to learn. He loves to party and celebrate. He went to the Nova Festival with his three best friends. It’s a spiritual festival about peace and love and being together and dancing. It’s something magical. They tried to escape. They were kidnapped. Mom’s car was burnt to the ground. We saw videos Hamas broadcasted of him—terrified, bounded, beaten, humiliated. It’s crazy. It’s very hard for us to gain strength. We are fighting for my brother because we know he is alive. We believe he will return. Thank you for supporting us with your prayers. It really means a lot, raising awareness for that situation. We can save him.”

Other profiles in the video included Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, who suffered critical injuries, including the loss of his arm before being abducted into Gaza; Eitan Mor who was working as a security guard at the Nova Festival, helping others to escape to safety when he was last seen; and Maya and Itay Regev, brother and sister who were both shot in the legs and operated on in Gaza without anesthesia. They were released after 54 days in captivity as part of the November ceasefire. They regret leaving Gaza without their friend Omer Shem Tov.

Photo By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
A super sized milk carton features an Israel hostage held by Hamas.

The video was made possible by MetroWest Israel Action Committee.