In a world often fraught with division and conflict, moments of unity and solidarity shine brightly, reminding us of the power of community and compassion. On Thursday night, Feb 8, 2023 members of JLIC Binghamton, alongside the Binghamton University Zionist Organization (BUZO), came together in a powerful display of support for Omer Neutra, a student who deferred his enrollment in Binghamton to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and is now being held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Binghamton Show Support to Bring Omer Neutra home - picture by BUZO

The evening began at the Binghamton basketball game, where students proudly donned shirts bearing the message “Bring Omer Home” and held signs declaring “#BingStandsWithOmer.” It was a tangible expression of solidarity and a reminder of Omer’s absence from the campus he had once aspired to join.

Omer Neutra’s story is one of courage, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment to his homeland. A native of Long Island and a passionate basketball player, Omer had planned to attend Binghamton University after his gap year. However, inspired by a deep sense of duty to defend Israel, he chose to defer his enrollment and enlist in the IDF.

Tragically, Omer’s journey took an unexpected turn when he was captured by Hamas during the October 7th attack. As students gathered at the JLIC house later that evening, Omer’s father, Ronen, shared his son’s story, highlighting Omer’s dreams, aspirations, and the vibrant life he had envisioned for himself at Binghamton University.

Ronen Neutra (Omer's father) speaking to the JLIC Binghamton students.

Joined by members of the Binghamton Chabad, Rabbi Slonim, offered prayers for Omer’s safe return and for the release of all hostages still held captive by Hamas. February 8th marked over four months since the horrific October 7th massacre, a stark reminder of the ongoing plight faced by Omer and countless others.

Amidst the darkness, there is hope. As Ronen Neutra aptly remarked, “we look forward to the day when Omer can return to Binghamton University and join us here on campus.” It is a sentiment that resonates deeply within the Jewish community at Binghamton, driving us to continue advocating for Omer’s release and standing in solidarity with him until he is safely reunited with his loved ones.

We will never waver in our belief that, together, we can make a difference. Our thoughts, prayers, and actions are with Omer and all the hostages who long for the day when they can return home.

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