EVANSTON, Ill. — A mother and daughter from Evanston are free on Friday night after being held hostage by Hamas since its raid on Israel on Oct. 7.

The two Americans, Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie are the first hostages to be released by Hamas since the attack.

Following their release there has been an outpouring of joy and excitement from many, especially those who knew them.

“I am ecstatic. People I’ve spoken with are ecstatic because we’re so happy. This is a miracle of our times,” Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, from the Tannenbaum Chabad House, said on Friday.

Klein said he never thought this day would come, but is glad that it did and believes it has a lot to do with Judith’s positive optimism and faith. 

“If anyone was going to make it through alive it’s Judith and Natalie. Because Judith has unbelievable hope, she’s a person full of hope,” Klein said.

Natalie recently graduated from Deerfield High School and her former school community is elated with her release. 

The principal of Deerfield High School released a statement on Friday following the news of the mother and daughter’s release: 

“Deerfield High School and the entire District 113 community are thrilled with the news that DHS graduate Natalie Raanan and her mother have been released to the Red Cross and are in Israel, as confirmed to D113 by her family. We wish them safe and quick passage back to the US so that they can be reunited with their family as soon as possible.”

DHS Principal Dr. Kathryn Anderson

Evanston Mayor Daniel Bliss also expressed comfort knowing that the mother and daughter are on their way home.

I am beyond relieved about the release of Natalie and Judith Raanan and cannot wait to welcome them safely back home. I cannot imagine what they endured and what courage they needed to muster, and I know I’m joined by all Evanstonians in feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Bliss