Hundreds attend Independence Day gathering at hostage families tent in Jerusalem

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Members of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball brigade at a hostage family gathering on May 14, 2024, near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Members of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball brigade at a hostage family gathering on May 14, 2024, near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Hundreds gather outside the hostage families tent at Jerusalem’s Paris Square for a musical gathering, in the last hours of Independence Day.

Local and well-known musicians sing tunes in Hebrew that resonate with the day and the mood amid the shadow of war, with one of the performers saying the songs feel like prayers.

Educator Chaya Gilboa, acting as MC, comments that “prayer is a kind of hope as we hope for a better future,” before reading a prayer by Rabbi Mishael Zion.

She is followed by singer Ester Rada, who accompanied by a cellist and guitarist sings a selection from Psalms.

“For the sake of my brothers and sisters, I will say peace to you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God I will pray for you,” sings Rada, followed by a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The crowd sits silently, more accustomed to standing with signs during the weekly Saturday evening rallies at Paris Square.

As singers perform their own songs and other well-known ones, the crowd sometimes softly sings along.

Leebie Goldberg-Polin, sister of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, speaks at the end of the event and thanks everyone for coming to mark the holiday with the hostage families.

Her father, Jon Polin, asks everyone to keep coming to the protests and gatherings, and thanks fans of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team brigade for their presence.

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