PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following the surprising and horrifying attack by Hamas on Israel, many videos have circulated on social media platforms showing kidnapped people and dead civilians.
In one video, people identified a former student here in Portland, Shani Louk, who was a kindergarten student at the Portland Jewish Academy in the early 2000s.
One of the videos picked up news organizations around the world shows Shani’s motionless body in the back of a truck with Hamas terrorists.
Devorah Spilman, who was Shani’s kindergarten teacher, said her daughter shower her “the horrendous video of Shani in Gaza — with terrorists parading her around, singing and dancing. And she said, ‘Mom, this girl is from Portland.'”
“The thing about Shani, her sister Adi and their family is that they were an Intel family and an Israeli Intel family that came to Portland and brought this Israeli spirit with them,” Spilman told KOIN 6 News. “Shani was sweet, beautiful smile — just the sweetness in our classroom.”
Spilman said Shani’s family lived in Portland before later moving to Germany.
She and the principal of the Portland Jewish Academy, Merrill Hendin, are devastated over these reports about Shani.
“We were terribly saddened at her tragic loss and our hearts go out to her family and to all of the people who were tragically taken,” Hendin said.
Other Israelis in Portland told KOIN 6 News that any lives lost in Israel during this war feels like the loss of their own family.
“When it comes so close to Portland, Oregon to our community here, it creates such a stronger effect for everyone else,” said Dorice Horenstein, whose family emigrated to Israel when it became a state but now lives in Portland. “I think Jews and non-Jews have to stand up against the atrocities happening within the Israel borders right now.”
“It’s just breaking our hearts,” Spilman said. “And when it comes so close to home I think everybody feels that this is not far away.”