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Utah rabbi shares family's harrowing experience during Israel terrorist attack

Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 09, 2023

A Utah rabbi and his family are safe after being in Israel during this weekend's deadly terrorist attack that has left hundreds dead in the country.

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"I grew up in Utah, I never experienced this in my life," said Rabbi Chaim Zippel, co-director of Chabad of Utah County.

Zippel, his wife and the couple's 1-year-old son were in Israel to celebrate his brother in-law's bar mitzvah. He said on Friday there was dancing in the streets, only for it to change to a completely different scene the following morning.

The family was awoken around 6:30 a.m. with a knock on the door warning of sirens going off and a red alert that rockets were inbound. Zippel, his wife and son made their way to a bomb shelter and could hear several booms going off while inside.

"After the siren, you always hear that one, boom, we would hear like a bunch of boom, boom, boom," Zippel shared.

During the chaos, Zippel and his brother-in-law stepped outside after one of the siren alert.

"We were stopped by a Israeli citizen just driving as fast as he can down the road, hand on his gun and he told me in Hebrew, "I don't know if you guys heard, there's complete chaos, there's terrorists coming into different communities and taking control," recalled Zippel.

At the same time, the rabbi looked up, heard a boom and saw a large black cloud of smoke leading the two to take off and run back to the shelter.

Zippel and his family were able to get out of Israel Monday morning, braving a crowded airport as they flew to Zurich where they'll stay the night before before flying back to Utah on Tuesday.

"I think that the number one thing is to show your support to the Jewish people," he said, "and to show that there's still some support out there."