Updated as of 4:12 p.m. on May 16 to include video of the event.

Lucy Siegel’s younger brother Keith and his wife Aviva were captured by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023 from the kibbutz where they lived in Israel. While Aviva was held hostage for 51 days and released on Nov. 26, 2023, Keith is still currently being held hostage in Gaza. 

Lucy visited Elon’s Chabad house on May 7 to share her and her brother’s story with the Elon community. Rabbi Mendy Minkowitz introduced Lucy Siegel as she spoke about how the Israel-Hamas War continues to impact her personally.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Rabbi Mendy Minkowitz welcomes attendees to the event and gives a brief introduction of Lucy Siegel on May 7 at the Chabad Student Jewish Center.

Siegel first asked the audience of roughly 50 to reflect on holidays and celebrations they have observed since October. After a moment's silence, Siegel told the crowd that Keith has not been able to celebrate any moments of joy since being captured. This was especially emotional for Siegel, as his birthday was the next day on May 8.

According to Siegel, Keith has been surviving off of very little food and water, as seen through a video released by Hamas on April 27 of him being held hostage in Gaza.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Students gather on May 7 at the Chabad Student Jewish Center to listen to Lucy Siegel speak about her personal experience regarding the effects of the Israel-Hamas War.

Siegel declined Elon News Network’s request for comment.

“The psychological torment, the verbal abuse, the physical harm. There are truly no words that I have that can describe what Aviva has shared with us,” Siegel said during the event. 

Siegel also shared some graphic details about Keith’s time as a hostage — including physical injuries such as a bullet wound to the hand and two broken ribs.

“We do know that he is suffering,” Siegel said. “Every minute, every day, every hostage is suffering.”

When having first gotten notice of Hamas’ invasion of Israel, Siegel said she had noticed little signs that something was wrong. Though her text messages were not sent completely, it wasn’t until Keith’s neighbor had told her that he had seen Keith and Aviva being taken away by gunpoint and driven to Gaza in Keith’s car. A few days later, Hamas released a video that revealed Keith and Aviva being taken in the car. 

“A part of my responsibility for Keith, for my family, for all the hostages, is to use my voice everywhere, anywhere that I can,” Siegel said.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Speaker Lucy Siegel converses with attendees who have questions or comments about her personal experience of the Israel=Hamas War near the end of the event on May 7 at the Chabad Student Jewish Center.

Siegel’s husband Paul O’Connor was also there to support her as she spoke to the Elon community.  

“When something like this happens, if you know Lucy, you just expect this kind of strength and effort on her part,” O’Connor said. “That is what I love about her.”

O’Connor said he admires Siegel’s resilience when speaking about her family. Though he fears for Keith, O’Connor described him as “laid-back.” 

“It’s pretty clear that Keith has that Siegel strength in him too,” O’Connor said.

Ethan Wu | Elon News Network

Freshman Andrew Kochman comments on his cause in working with the Chabad Center and introduces speaker Lucy Siegel at the beginning of the event on May 7 at the Chabad Student Jewish Center.

Elon freshman Andrew Kochman was the one to initially get in touch with Siegel and request her presence on campus. Kochman reached out to his local Rabbi in Raleigh and she put him in contact with Siegel. 

Kochman said he appreciates the words and stories Siegel shared with the Elon community. 

“I’m amazed at everything she said, she blew my expectations out of the water,” Kochman said. “It was beyond inspirational hearing a personal story to what’s going on in the Middle East.” 

Kochman said he finds the violence in the Middle East “heartbreaking.” While also seeing the activity on college campuses, Kochman finds it “extremely disheartening”.  

Elon sophomore Ben Moriel-Kirshner also said he found Siegel’s address very important to listen to, especially since it was a first-hand account of the war’s impact

“I’m very thankful for her to come speak at Elon. I think that it’s very challenging to talk about something, especially with it being her brother,” Moriel-Kirshner said. “Her statements about peace and wanting peace are the key components of her speech.”

In addressing the conflict in the Middle East, Siegel said peace is something she finds very important for all sides

“Aviva has been traveling all over the world speaking out to bring Keith home. Bring every hostage home,” Siegel said. “Stop this war."