It was a moving ceremony to begin with. Each year,the skating rink at the Ice Mall in Eilat is packed on Chanukah, and a large crowd, including many tourists, joins Rabbi Mendi Klein each night to light the menorah. But this year Eilat is empty of tourists, their places at the menorah lighting taken by some of the 70,000 Israelis from the Gaza Envelope who are being hosted in Eilat after their displacement by the terrorist attack on Simchat Torah.

It was the fourth night of Chanukah, and Rabbi Klein, co-director of Chabad of Eilat, was about to recite the blessings before lighting the menorah. Children and parents from some of the communities hit hardest by the Hamas massacre, several dozen of them on skates, joined locals around the menorah. After the darkness they each witnessed, the flames of the Chanukah menorah meant so much more.

Two girls skated up to Chanie Klein, who directs Chabad of Eilat with her husband, and pointed to a young boy in the audience who appeared to be mesmerized by the proceedings. They whispered to Klein, “Our friend, Yagil Yaakov is here. He just came back from Gaza. Can he light the menorah?”

Twelve-year-old Yagil Yaakov had been taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, together with his 16-year-old brother, Or Yaakov. The brothers had been home alone in Kibbutz Nir Oz, hiding in their bomb shelter, when the terrorists broke in and took them to Gaza, where they were held in traumatic captivity for 43 days.

Needless to say, the Kleins immediately invited Yagil to light the large menorah in the center of the rink. As Yagil climbed up the steps to the menorah, his mother, Renana, who had fought tirelessly for her sons’ release, proudly watched him, as everyone on the rink stood silently.

After the rabbi made the blessings, Yagil kindled each wick, one by one, until there was a giant, luminous Chanukah flame.

Yagil and Or’s father, Yair Yaakov, is still being held by Israel’s enemies along with more than 100 hostages from Israel. Yagil will soon be marking his bar mitzvah and hopes that his father will be returned home to celebrate with him.