Four Israeli Hostages Released on Chanukah

by Baila Olidort - BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

December 22, 2003

It is a Festival of Miracles, and no one is feeling the miracle more than the four Israelis who were kidnapped by Marxist Colombians in the jungle ruins of Colombia last September.

After 101 days in captivity high in the Sierra Nevada, where they suffered hunger, isolation and fear of death, the National Liberation Army, or the ELN released them yesterday, the fourth Chanukah light.

The Israeli captives include Orpaz Ohayon, 22, Beni Daniel, 26, Ido Yosef Guy, 26, and Erez Altawil, 24, who were released along with a Briton captured at the same time, while hiking in the archeological ruins in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains.

On Monday night, Tamar Ohayon, the mother of Orpaz Ohayon -- one of the three Israeli captives, helped kight light Chabad's grand Chanukah menorah as the blessing "Who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time . . . " was proclaimed aloud to an overflow crowd of 1,000 who turned out to celebrate.

Tamar Ohayon traveled from Israel to Colombia to await her son's release. At the Chanukah ceremony, Tamar expressed her thanks to Chabad for helping her and the other Israeli families find a home away from home in Colombia while they awaited the release of their sons.

Israel's Ambassador to Colombia, Yair Recanati, joined Rabbi Yehoshua B. Rosenfeld, director of Chabad activities in Colombia, and Chabad representative to Baranquilla, Rabbi Yossi Lieberow as they led a Chanukah celebration that will long be remembered by Colombia's Jewish community.

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