Holocaust survivor Michael Kupershtein, alongside Ora Rubinstein
Holocaust survivor Michael Kupershtein, alongside Ora RubinsteinPaulina Patimer

On Saturday evening, a massive rally was held at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv under the banner, "Never Again Is Now," where family members of the hostages, who are also relatives of Holocaust survivors, spoke.

Orna and Ronnie Neutra, parents of the American-Israeli hostage Omer Neutra, who is a grandson of Holocaust survivors said: "Our children grew up on our family's stories from the Holocaust, about the enormous loss, about the bravery amidst the unimaginable, and also about the miracles and the revival. Unfortunately, we are still fighting for our right to exist. And our family has been fighting for Omer's life since the day he was taken. Fighting for the right and the awareness, all over the world and also here."

"How long will our children, siblings, and parents continue to be abandoned in Hamas' tunnels? We call on our leaders today, headed by the Prime Minister - show courage, show resourcefulness, do what is needed to bring all the hostages back to us."

Ora Rubinstein, aunt of hostage Bar Kupershtein and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, added: "The only thing that keeps us going these days is the hope that Bar is alive and surviving. I pray that he will hold on and return to us from this ongoing nightmare. That the strength of Bar's grandfather passed onto him. Because Bar is the grandson of my father, Michael, a Holocaust survivor who managed to escape from the Nazis against all odds, survived the horrors, and established a home in Israel. The sorrow over the kidnapping of his grandson is unbearable for him, and this whole situation takes him back to the dark days of World War II, forcing him to relive his worst nightmares. Those nightmares which we always regarded as 'never again.'"

"Tomorrow, we will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, to remember and not forget. Unfortunately, every citizen needs to know and understand that this 'never again' is now. Because our children, the best of our sons and daughters, our beautiful and brave people, in the beginning and middle of their lives, are held hostage in 2024 by Nazis! Evil terrorists with no moral conscience whatsoever.

"Please, if anyone is listening and truly paying attention to me and all the families going through this ongoing nightmare, DO NOT FORGET OUR LOVED ONES! Do not let history repeat itself for them."

Hanna Cohen, aunt of murdered hostage Inbar Haiman and daughter of Holocaust survivors, added: "Inbar was 27 years old at the time of her murder. Inbar was a third-generation child of Holocaust survivors. Her grandfather Raoul (Israel) Schunzenick is a Holocaust survivor. He was born in Iasi in Romania, and some of his family members were murdered in the Holocaust. He immigrated to Israel at the age of six. He feels he is going through a second Holocaust as his beloved first grandchild Inbar, whom he loved so much, was murdered and held captive by Hamas."

"Inbar worked as a helper at the Nature Festival near Kibbutz Re'im. On that black Saturday morning of October 7th at 7:30 am, she was messaging her brother, telling him about the missile attack. That was the last contact with her. She fled with two other guys toward Kibbutz Be’eri. She witnessed horrific acts - bodies of those murdered, rape, and brutal abuse of the young people at the party. Cruel acts reminiscent of the Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust.

"For 70 days, we hoped Inbar was wounded, taken to a hospital in Gaza, and receiving treatment. Unfortunately, we received the bitter news that Inbar was murdered. Inbar's body is still being held in Gaza by Hamas. Everyone must be returned. We will not abandon them as the Jews were abandoned during the Holocaust. We have a strong country and a strong army, which we did not have during the Holocaust, and we must bring everyone home now."

Dalit Shtivi, mother of hostage Idan Shtivi and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, stressed: "My grandmother and grandfather survived the Holocaust and the Transnistria concentration camp in Chernivtsi, Romania. My mother and her twin brother were only 4 years old then, and my grandfather protected his family and other families."

"The Holocaust stands on its own, and we must remember it as it was, by itself. Because what happened was unparalleled, and I pray that it will never happen again. The massacre of October 7th was terrible and horrific, disgusting and frightening. The goal was cruelty for its own sake. It had no declared purpose other than killing, abuse, and barbarity.

"This year's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day is laden with associations and connections to the events of October 7th. The traumatic experience of the Holocaust that characterizes the Jewish people as a collective is still present today. The knowledge that we share the same Jewish ethnic-religious origin, which was the reason for the murder of six million Holocaust victims, is enough to make us feel threatened and arouse emotional responses in us to various phenomena similar to or related to the Holocaust.

"The events of October 7th took place when we had a home - an independent state, with defense and an army. The most important lesson is not to stand idly by. Because this must not happen in a reformed world, and now, even after the events of October 7th, the world stands by, and there is no substitute for the Jewish home.

"I am a third-generation descendant of Holocaust survivors, and my children are the fourth generation. I strengthen the hands of those conducting the negotiations, believing they do not miss any opportunity to bring our hostages home as soon as possible."

The family of Maya Goren, who was murdered on October 7th, said: "Tomorrow, May 5th, Maya would have turned 57. She would downplay her own birthday. To her, it was just a regular day when she cared more about others. She always made sure we all felt happy and loved. And she put herself last. That's how my mom was, giving was the essence of her life. Maya will no longer turn 57. We won't celebrate birthdays, holidays or share meals with her. On 7/10, all this stopped. She got up early as usual and went to set up the nursery at Kibbutz Nir Oz. She was shot and kidnapped in critical condition to Gaza. The hope that she survived, that perhaps they were treating her there, was also shattered in late November - that's when they told us she too was among the many murdered."

"She is still being held hostage in Gaza. Mom will never know that her love - our father - was also murdered. And she won't know that a plot awaits her next to his grave. Therefore, we will continue to stand here and demand, in the name of her compassion, to implement her unwritten will - to give of ourselves to be valued and sanctify life. And to put the return of all the hostages before anything else.

"And we ask the Cabinet today - take care of everyone. Return all 133 hostages. Don't forget and don't leave Maya and all the other hostages still being held captive in Gaza. Today I will ask you one small thing - be good, be Maya."