As fast as posters spotlighting the Israeli and foreign national kidnapping victims by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel were going up in many communities, they were getting torn down.
“We were hearing that people wanted to put up signs, but we were [also] hearing about them being torn down and defaced,” said Kara Rosenwald, the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s director of global experiences. “The next day I was driving into work and saw these billboards.”
Using the electronic billboards she saw on her commute was Rosenwald’s solution. Now photos of kidnapped victims are part of the rotating advertisements on signage along Interstates 494, 394, and 35W this weekend, but will be on others over the next four weeks. The billboards say in large letters “Kidnapped by Hamas” with photos of the individuals or families, their ages, and their nationalities, as well as the social media hashtag #bringthemhomenow.
“[The signs] have cameras on them, they’re high up, and it’s getting the word out there without these images of the hostages being defaced in any way,” Rosenwald said. “MJF wanted to support the community efforts and getting the fliers out and do it in a way that the hostages were not being defamed or the posters wouldn’t be ripped down.”
Said MJF CEO Jim Cohen: “We cannot let up on keeping the matter of the hostages in front of the general public until each and every one of them is released.”
The funding came from an anonymous donor, as well as some funds from the Israel Center at MJF – not the MJF’s Tikvatenu Israel Emergency Campaign, which has raised more than $3.5 million. Rosenwald said they went through a verification process for each person who would be on the billboard to make sure they had the most accurate information available.
“This is our way of increasing awareness in the community of the hostage situation,” Rosenwald said. “We want to make sure that people don’t forget how this all started: It was a terrorist attack.”