‘I’m sorry – there’s helicopters flying overhead right now’: Rochester family escapes from the war in Israel

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Marc Cohen is one of the top aides to Bob Duffy at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

In a social media post Monday, we learned he and his family made it from Israel to Dubai so they could eventually fly home.

But when we talked to Cohen Sunday, he was in his hotel in Tel Aviv and his family was in a bomb shelter.

“The last 24 hours, 36 hours, have been very stressful,” Cohen told us from his beachside hotel room.

Cohen, his pregnant wife Emily, his brother, parents and others were on a two-week vacation to Israel.

His social media Friday shows videos of dancing and photos on peaceful streets.

Friday, he tweeted that he was in “lockdown” in his hotel.

This was his fifth visit to the country, the first as a tourist, and he says Israelis live in a constant state of preparing to hear explosions.

That’s what woke him up.

“I was awoken by the sound of rockets and mortars and by the sirens of air raids,” he said.

He hoped it would be short-lived.

“Very quickly we realized it was something entirely different,” Cohen said.

As we spoke to him, there was movement above his hotel that caused him to pause. 

“Please make sure that the folks who are out there texting us,” he said before he paused. “I’m sorry – there’s helicopters flying overhead right now, right next to our hotel.”

Monday, Cohen’s wife Emily tweeted that they made it to Dubai and that their “hearts break for Israel.”
Cohen credits Rep. Joe Morelle, his staff, the Rochester representative for Delta Airlines and the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester for getting his family out safely.

“That’s not hyperbolic,” he said. “They are helping to save our lives.”

In a series of text messages, Cohen says they feel a mixture of gratefulness, sadness and exhaustion. He still doesn’t know when they’ll get back to Rochester because, in the chaos, flights keep getting changed.