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Evanston teen Natalie Raanan back in Chicago after being held hostage by Hamas

A young woman wearing a large gray hoodie stands holding a cell phone stands next to an older woman with dark hair, both are smiling
U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
/
AFP via Getty Images
Natalie and Judith Raanan, seen here at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Oct. 20, speak with President Biden following their release.

Natalie Raanan, 18, and her mother Judith Raanan, 59, were kidnapped Oct. 7 and taken hostage by Hamas. They were released nearly two weeks later. The Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen announced Natalie Raanan’s return to Chicago but did not mention when Judith Raanan would return home.

An Evanston teen who was held hostage by Hamas and released earlier this month is back in Chicago, the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest announced Monday evening.

Natalie Raanan, 18, and her mother Judith Raanan, 59, were kidnapped Oct. 7 during a surprise attack by Hamas near the border of Gaza that sparked a war that has claimed thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives. The mother and daughter were released nearly two weeks later.

“I am relieved to see Natalie back home in Chicago,” Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen said in a statement late Monday. “Her family members have been anxiously waiting for her return, and today I am sharing their happiness.”

Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17.
Photo provided to the Chicago Sun-Times
Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17.

The announcement did not mention when Judith Raanan would be arriving in Chicago.

“While we’re celebrating Natalie’s return, we remember the 239 hostages, among them babies, children, women, and the elderly, who are still held by Hamas in Gaza,” Cohen said.

Chava Golden, a friend of Judith Raanan’s, was surprised to hear of Natalie’s return to Chicago.

“I’m shocked that she’s back and thrilled that she’s back,” Golden said. “I just hope she’s OK.”

Golden added she doesn’t know when Judith Raanan will return from Israel but has heard through mutual friends her friend is reluctant to leave her 85-year-old mother.

“She’s been with her mother and just kind of getting some tender loving care, and I guess she hasn’t wanted to leave her mother,” Golden said.

The north suburban mother and daughter were the first hostages released from among at least 200 people Israeli military leaders have said were held by Hamas.

The two were in Israel to visit Judith Raanan’s mother and Natalie’s grandmother to celebrate her 85th birthday and Simchat Torah, the Jewish holiday marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah readings. They were staying in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border.