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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Run for Their Lives’ march honors Omer Shem Tov, a hostage held captive by Hamas for 179 days in Gaza

Through prayer, baking, and marching, the ‘Run for Their Lives’ community highlights one hostage weekly, reminding them of their families, passions and goals.
Margaux Jubin
Emily Brophy, a member of Run for Their Lives, speaks to the crowd about the ongoing struggles of the hostages’ families during the event in Newton Centre on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

Dozens of activists gathered in Newton Centre on Sunday afternoon to honor 21-year-old Omer Shem Tov, an Israeli who was taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7 during the deadly attack at the Nova Music Festival, where 360 people were killed and 40 taken hostage.  

This gathering was held by Run for Their Lives, a global movement started by a group of Israelis in the Bay Area of California in collaboration with the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, a group formed by the families of the hostages to demand their release. 

Run for Their Lives facilitates groups in local communities worldwide to meet once a week in a designated location for a 1K walk/run. At these gatherings, the group marches with flags of the countries whose citizens are among the hostages, says prayers for the captives, and advocates for their releases.

Beginning at 11 a.m. in the Newton Centre Green, the group sang a prayer for the 130 remaining hostages. Emily Brophy, a member of Run for Their Lives Boston-Newton, held up a poster with Shem Tov’s picture on it, reading “Bring Omer Back Home.” Shem Tov is a music lover who worked as a waiter to save money to travel the world, according to an article published in the Jewish Chronicle. He had been planning to travel to Amsterdam the following week for another music festival. 

Behzad Dayanim led the crowd through Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael, a prayer of solidarity: “Our brothers and sisters, the whole house of Israel, who are in distress and captivity who wander over the sea and land—may God have mercy on them, and bring them from distress to comfort, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption, now, swiftly, and soon.”  

After the prayer, Brophy took the microphone to draw attention to the plight of the hostages’ families. She recalled a Times of Israel interview with Omer’s mother, Shelly, in which she expressed concern for Shem Tov’s health, as he is without his inhaler for his asthma or care for his celiac disease.

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  • Dina Troen-Krasnow, left, and Elana Katz, right, march alongside one another on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Guy Levy, an Israeli immigrant, shows his dog tag from his time serving in the Israel Defense Forces during the Run for Their Lives event on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

Israeli and Massachusetts resident Guy Levy arrived at the gathering in Newton Centre Green wearing his decades-old dog tag from his time serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Levy said that attending these events strengthened his connections to those currently held hostage in Gaza.

“I feel mentally connected to the suffering of these people who were kidnapped and to their families and all the people of Israel, my people,” he said. 

Levy, his wife, and three children have been looking for ways to get involved in advocacy for the hostages, and attending Run for Their Lives events helps them feel more connected. 

“Me and my family think about [the hostages] all the time,” Levy said. “This has been very major to our lives in the last six months, and we want to do anything we can to help the hostages be released.”

Attendee Denisse Rotem has cultivated a unique way of showing her love and support to the hostages. She discovered a website called “Tastes Like Home, where families of hostages have been able to share their captive loved ones’ favorite dessert recipes. The mission was popularized by the uniqueness of its nature. By baking a hostage’s favorite dessert and sharing it with loved ones or on social media, one can help personally honor them.  

Rotem arrived at Newton Centre Green with 52-year-old hostage Eli Sharabi’s favorite dessert,  orange cake, and 56-year-old hostage Itzik Gelernter’s favorite treat, elephant ears. She offered these treats in clear bags fastened with a yellow ribbon, which is a symbol that the Hostages and Missing Families Forum introduced in 2024 to demonstrate support for the civilian hostages, comprising young children, teenagers, adults, women, and men.

Rotem, who moved to Massachusetts after moving to Israel at age 18 from Caracas, Venezuela, attended the event to advocate for the 130 hostages and work to heal the Jewish community that the events on Oct. 7 has ruptured.  

“We’ve lost family, friends, and children; we lost a lot, but everyone is surviving, which is what we are, right?” she said. “We’re survivors, and we’re fighters, and we’re warriors, period. That’s the Jews.” 

Brophy, the main speaker at Sunday’s event, lived in Jerusalem in 2014 for a college internship and has maintained a profound connection to the country since then, which led her to seek a supportive group after the attack. 

“I felt like a lot of my friends in the Jewish community weren’t as impacted as I was, so I needed to find people who understood me, and this group completely understands me,” Brophy said. “Israel holds a really special place in our hearts, and I just felt that I can’t be whole until everyone is brought home.”

Like many other attendees, Miriam Kosowsky attends these weekly gatherings to form a multi-dimensional connection with each hostage while advocating for their release.

“Today, they were giving information about Omer’s life, and the event that happened today is raising awareness about the hostages and reminding people that these are human beings,” Kosowsky said. “Each one has a family, each one has a favorite cookie, has a favorite song, a best friend, and a family who loves them.”

At around 11:45 a.m., attendees, many cloaked in the blue and white Israel flag, wearing T-shirts and hoodies reading “Bring Them Home Now” and “I Stand with Israel,” began circling Newton Centre, each carrying signs with different hostages and chanting, “Bring them home now.”

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  • Behzad Dayanim, left, converses with an event attendee over a table of flags, fliers, and stickers on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Attendees circle Newton Centre on Sunday, March 31, 2024, carrying an Israeli flag, hostage posters, and a poster expressing solidarity with Amit Soussana, a former hostage who recently spoke out about the sexual assault she endured during her time as a captive in Gaza. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

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About the Contributor
Margaux Jubin
Margaux Jubin, Staff Writer
Margaux Jubin is a sophomore journalism major from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. Outside The Beacon, Margaux loves live music, hanging out with friends, and spending time in nature.

Comments (6)

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  • J

    Jordan G / Apr 6, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful exposé! 💙

  • עומר מור / Apr 4, 2024 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the coverage Margaux!
    Hope they all come home soon!

  • A

    Anonymous / Apr 4, 2024 at 12:31 am

    Amazing coverage! Recently, There has been so much news coverage on the pro-palestine narrative causing many people to forget that there is suffering and pain on both sides of war. This was refreshing to see knowing that there are at least some people that have not forgotten about the hostages.

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    Jonathan Duitch / Apr 4, 2024 at 12:30 am

    Thank you for sharing the plight of those impacted by the act of terrorism. Kidnapping innocent civilians, the elderly, the young , the music festival participants,is not going to advance any agenda for peace in the region.

  • M

    Miriam Kosowsky / Apr 4, 2024 at 12:04 am

    Thank you Margaux for writing this insightful and compassionate article that brings to light the plight of the hostages. Too many have forgotten the atrocities that Hamas perpetrated on October 7 and the terrible conditions that the hostages are under. You are helping people remember them, see their humanity and understand the ramifications on families and friends. Thank you!🙏

  • R

    Rebecca Levitsky / Apr 3, 2024 at 11:24 pm

    It’s good to see what ordinary citizens are doing to promote awareness about the hostages. It seems this movement is fueled not by countries but by individuals and communities of individuals .
    Very interesting article.