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Mother of Scottsdale business owner back home safe from Israel

Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-20 07:46:54-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — A Scottsdale barbershop owner is relieved now that his mother is back home in the U.S. after she was stuck in Israel amid war.

“As a joke, I said, ‘Mom, you’re 73 years old and you have experience being at war,’” said Rafiel.

Rafiel’s hands are now a little steadier as he styles and shaves his clients at the European Barbershop in Scottsdale, after a diligent effort to bring his 73-year-old mother home from visiting family in war-torn Israel.

Cell phone video shows Maria embracing her family at JFK airport for the first time after surviving days in an underground bunker, hiding from Hamas attacks.

Her son Rafiel said this homecoming involved the work of local lawmakers, well-connected customers, and continuous checking for available flights at an Istanbul airport.

There was no hesitation when a seat opened earlier this week.

”My sister said, ‘Don’t worry, we knew you were going to live to be over 100,’” he said.

With Rafiel translating, she told ABC15 that sirens meant she had just seconds to get to a bunker three stories underground. She feared if violence didn’t take her life, stress would.

What she saw above ground, she won’t soon forget but wishes she could.

“What they show on TV, how they slaughter people, kids, parents...she said not even Hitler would do this,” said Rafiel.

Back at her home in New York, Maria shared that depression is starting to sink in because of what she survived.

While Rafiel prayed for his mom’s safety, he hung a sign of solidarity outside his shop in the form of the Israeli flag.

What followed was a reminder of support from his surrounding Scottsdale community.

”A lot, a lot of people opened the door since and said, 'great job, you fly that flag high,'” he said.