BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – The conflict in Israel has many families in Northeast Ohio worried beyond measure for their loved ones overseas. Including one Beachwood family whose daughter is caught in the middle of the chaos.

“When I woke up this morning, I had about 100 text messages from friends and family from all over the world asking if my daughter, our daughter was okay,” Mark Holz said.

Holz’s 23-year-old daughter Raya grew up in Beachwood but is now living in Tel Aviv, working for an Israeli Tech company after graduating college. Now she’s caught in the middle of a war.

“She’s been in and out of bomb shelters throughout the day,” Mark said. And she’s actually spending the night in a bomb shelter so she doesn’t have to be woken up in the middle of the night. But yeah, it’s very scary when you hear that siren go off and you have to run to the nearest shelter.”

Mark is primarily concerned for Raya’s safety, because the series of attacks that started on Saturday morning are being compared to Sept. 11. He and his wife Leslie want Raya to fly home but are not sure that’s even a possibility with the current state of affairs. But he also said it’s up to Raya if she wants to abandon the life she’s building in the city she loves.

Photo courtesy Holz family

“As of right now she’s safe in a bomb shelter, she’s with her friends and she feels supported,” Mark said. “If things escalate, my wife and I will have to make a decision and have to look into what to do.” 

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland (JFC) issued a statement on the unfolding events, calling the attacks a living nightmare.

“The people of Israel being viciously attacked by the terrorist organization Hamas at an unprecedented size and scale. The loss of innocent life already tops 200 at the time we write this note and climbing. Thousands more are injured or missing.”

To generate and show support the JFC will be hosting a special community gathering on Monday at 5 p.m. at 25701 Science Park Drive. The JFC is also raising money through the Cleveland Stands With Israel Fund.

With Israel’s Prime Minister declaring war against Hamas, Mark fears things will only get worse but he’s hopeful his daughter can continue to stay safe.

“My daughter’s safety, obviously, is my No. 1 priority but I have so many family and friends there that everybody’s safety is my priority,” Mark said. “I feel the world is a darker place today and it is going to get worse before it gets better. So I’m scared and I’m sad. Like I said this feels like 9/11 to me. That’s how I feel inside. I haven’t felt this way since 9/11.”