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Six months after Hamas' deadly attack in Israel, Passover will feel different this year

Six months after Hamas' deadly attack in Israel, Passover will feel different this year
Six months after Hamas' deadly attack in Israel, Passover will feel different this year 03:33

MIAMI - On Monday at sundown the Jewish holiday of Passover will begin. Families around the world will celebrate with the traditional seder. But six months after the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, the holiday will feel very different.

The holiday of Passover celebrates the story of Exodus and the Jews' liberation from slavery in Egypt, but more than 130 hostages are still being held by Hamas, anything but free.

"I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. I remembered I just started crying. I don't think my brain got that this was Omer, and he was now taken," said Noa Shem Tov, whose cousin Omer Shem Tov was kidnapped on October 7th.

Noa says it was a normal start to the day but then she saw videos of her cousin, held at gunpoint, loaded into a pickup truck, and dragged into Gaza.

"At that point, everything changed. I just felt like the world is crashing on me," she said.

Time for their family stopped on that day.

"The past six months have just been like one day. I feel like from October 7th until now just a long day that never ends," she said.

Noa grew up next door to 21-year-old Omer in Israel but now lives in Aventura. She says she flew back to be with her family as soon as she could.

"I don't have brothers but he's like a brother to me. We are a really close family," she said.

Noa describes her cousin as happy, funny, and kind.

"In the family, we call him the sunshine because he just lights up a room wherever he goes," she said.

Jews celebrate Passover with a seder, a meal centered around ritual tradition and loved ones. But nothing feels the same for Noa and her family this year.

"For us, we can't really celebrate. For us it's not a holiday like we cannot celebrate without Omer," said Noa.

Rabbi Yossi Harlig of the Chabad Center of Kendall and Pinecrest says he has spoken to many of the families who are still missing loved ones.

"It's pain that none of us could ever understand. It's like your life stops and you can't breathe," said Rabbi Harlig.

A pain Noa says she holds on to along with the hope for Omer's return.

"He's the sunshine and I feel like since he left, there's no, it's dark," Noa said.

"They're not prisoners of war. It's a 21-year-old boy that just got kidnapped from a music festival," she added.

Hope, the Rabbi expects will be a big part of discussions at this year's seder table.

"Light over darkness. Goodness and kindness over evil," said Rabbi Harlig.

Noa is in Israel for the Passover holiday with her family. They have dinner together every Friday night and she says they leave a seat for Omer's return.

"We just have to have hope because if we don't have hope then we have nothing," said Noa. 

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