Stories & Voices
The Oldest Hostage in Gaza Loves Family, Gardening, and Pistachio Ice Cream
Reflections from Itzik Shmuli, Director General of UJA’s Israel Office
April 12th, 2024

More than 180 days and still 133 hostages.

This amount of time is unfathomable, especially for those in captivity, where time is standing still. 

Since that horrendous Shabbat that has changed us forever, our heart remains in Gaza, and we are aching.

There is nothing more important than the return of the hostages. Without them there is no victory, total or partial, none.

Chen Almog Goldstein, who was released from Hamas captivity after 51 days with her three children — her husband Nadav and daughter Yam were murdered on Oct. 7 — spoke words that still resonate within me:   

"We have no right to exist here if we cannot assure parents that we are looking after their children and doing everything to protect them or save them when necessary.”  

The greatest danger is that we will get used to it, that we will shrug our shoulders and return to our mundane lives, that the hostages will fade from our personal and collective memory.    

Therefore, it is important that we insist on reminding ourselves and remembering always and everywhere.

UJA Federation of New York >> <p><em>Shlomo in his craft-filled yard before he was taken hostage.</em></p>

Shlomo in his craft-filled yard before he was taken hostage.

Shlomo Mantzur, the oldest hostage at age 86, survived the Farhud massacre in Iraq. He immigrated to Israel and raised an incredible family in Kibbutz Kissufim. 

Shlomo was kidnapped from his home on that Shabbat, and since then, there is no record of him.

No video on Telegram, no testimonies from retuned hostages, nothing.

His family is strong but misses him deeply.

It is important to me and to all of us that we look past the photos of each and every hostage in the posters and get to know who they are and shout their names until they return.   

💛 Shlomo is a craftsman, his yard is full of works he has made over the years, and the kindergarten children of Kissufim love to stop by his yard on their way home.

💛 Last month was his 86th birthday, and his family invited the public in Israel and the world to go out to eat ice cream in honor of Shlomo's birthday, because he loves pistachio ice cream so much.

💛 Shlomo loves to cultivate his garden, and so on Israel's "Day of Good Deeds" his family distributed yellow flower pots.  

I pray that the day is near when Shlomo, along with all the rest of our hostages, will hug his family in his garden and enjoy pistachio-flavored ice cream together. 💛