UPDATE: Rochester family arrives in U.S. after being in Israel during Hamas attacks

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UPDATE: The Rochester man and his wife who were stuck in Israel over the weekend during the Hamas attacks have made it home safely.

On Wednesday night, Marc Cohen boarded a flight in Chicago heading to Buffalo, he said. Cohen and his wife, who is seven months pregnant, were locked down in a hotel in Tel Aviv when bombs started to fall. Cohen said he’s grateful to have been able to flee and that his prayers are with people still suffering in Israel.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Marc Cohen, the chief of staff at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, has been trying to make it back home from Israel.

He and his wife were vacationing there with family, until the trip was cut short due to nearby rocket-fire and sirens. Marc was able to flee Tel Aviv, and get a flight home from Dubai, where he provided an update over zoom. If all goes as planned, he should be back in the U.S. on Wednesday.

“My heart hurts in ways that I didn’t know it could hurt, for the situation in Israel,” he said.

He never imagined a beautiful family vacation, celebrating his heritage, would have to end this way.

“Running for your life, is something that, until Saturday morning, I had no concept of what it meant,” he said. “To see mothers and fathers clutching their children, to be holding my wife and my wife holding me, because very near us in Tel Aviv, bombs were falling.”

Marc and his wife Emily, seven months pregnant, awoke to the sirens of air raids, rockets and mortars. They were about 35 miles away from Gaza.

“Sirens have been sounding all over Israel, including in the north, where we were going next,” he said. “Very near us, in Tel Aviv, bombs were falling, we were standing in a bomb shelter, feeling the vibrations and explosions, praying that we were not going to be next.”

As he makes his journey back to Rochester, he’s been checking up on many family-friends, living in Israel. This includes a family he just met through a mutual friend, and shared a dinner with, hours before the chaos ensued.

“Their son, who just got out of the reserves, who extended his service an extra two years, got out of the reserves, and was called back…he was called back to risk his life.”

He calls it a miracle, he and his wife are out safe. “Praying so incredibly hard for the Israeli defense forces, for the people of Israel,” he said.

Marc said the outpouring of love and support from here in Rochester has been incredible; from coworkers, strangers, and politicians. He’s also paying it forward, helping other families trying to get out; sharing flight plans with them, travel advice, and prayers.