Montreal Jews embrace Gilad Shalit
Montreal's Jewish community turned out in big numbers on Tuesday night to greet Gilad Shalit, the 27-year-old former Israeli soldier who was held captive by Hamas for over five years.
The slightly-built young man is on cross-Canada tour to thank Canadians for their moral support while he was being held in Gaza between 2006 and 2011.
The evening was emotional but joyous for the almost 1,500 people who attended the talk at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount.
Shalit was greeted with a minute-long standing ovation as he took the stage.
He spent most of his 15-minute talk thanking the people who supported him and his family during his captivity, saying their wishes and prayers sustained him.
"Religious and secular, right-wing and left-wing, old and young, gathered to call for my release," he said in heavily accented English. "I'm so thankful that you counted the days of my captivity and never forgot about me."
In order to secure Shalit's release, Israel agreed to hand over more than a thousand Palestinians it was holding prisoner - including one man who was sentenced to life for killing a 17-year-old Canadian girl in 1990.
Audience members said after the talk that getting Shalit back was well worth the price.
Photo courtesy Wikicommons