Sam, the eldest, turned 14 years old on October 3, 2011, and 15 the following year, both birthdays without family being allowed to send him their birthday wishes. He was born in NY but moved with his mom and dad to Florence, Italy when he was only a year old. His whole life has been in Italy.
He used to play soccer in school in Italy and liked to play chess with his dad.
Elliot, or Eli to family and closest friends, turned 12 on February 7, 2012 and his family was not allowed to talk to him nor to give him presents. For his previous birthday in Florence, he had a party at his father’s house, with his friends conducting a treasure hunt. The questions were too easy for Eli and he found all the treasures too quickly! For 2013, the father is asking for friends in Russia to help deliver presents to Elliot from the entire family.
Eli was writing a book before being abducted and his goal was to be published by age 12. Unfortunately he was unable to finish his book because at the end of the one week vacation with his mother he never came back home. His father and his best friend Edoardo edited the first half of the book and have published several of the chapters on this blog. You can download and read the first chapter and leave your thoughts and comments on the blog so that Eli may one day be able to read them.
After being abducted, he was denied internet access, his email address cancelled, and his Facebook page was deleted. But his father tried to leave the printed copies of his chapters blog at the St. Petersburg yeshiva where he was placed by his mother. The institution’s director, Rabbi Chaim Tolochinsky of Chabad, refused to allow Elliot to speak with his father, or to let him get in touch with his family and friends.
Sara, who had just turned 9 at the time of the abduction, was placed in a separate institution from her three brothers. Called “Mahon”, the institution in St. Petersburg is an unlicensed institution for girls who are orphaned, or whose parents suffer from severe alcoholism or drug abuse. For half the year, she shared a room with five other girls. In Florence, she had her own bedroom, with walls in pink and fuchsia (her favorite colors) and a Hello Kitty clock the wall and Hello Kitty sheets on her bed.
Sara had an eggplant she took care of before the abduction. Unfortunately she was unable to see if grow and missed all the eggplants that her plant made. There were the eggplants on it all at one time!!
During vacations the past three summers, Sara learned to sail, snorkel, and scuba-dive! In Florence, she was taking dance classes and in June 2011 she performed with her dance class at the Verdi Theatre in Florence.
Sara and her have invented a number of bedtime stories, that have gone from short tales to elaborate stories about magical dragons and a pink princess. Some of these stories are available here on the blog.
Sara loves playing with her cousin Zoe, who is now two years old. Aunt Molly has not had Zoe’s birthday party yet because she is waiting for Sara to come back home! Sara got a bike for her birthday last year from Aunt Molly, Grandma Roro and Grandpa Jim. She was so excited and loved to ride it with her father when he went running.
Ezra was five years old when he was abducted. He wanted to have his 6th birthday party with a treasure hunt like his brother Elliot had done, inviting all his friend from school to his father’s house.
But instead, on Sunday February 26, 2012 he was without his father and his friends alone in a Russian yeshiva, where family members were forbidden from contacting him or provide him with any gifts.
Ezra, or Z, had become an able swimmer during his August vacation, just before his kidnapping. Strawberry is his favorite flavor and he grows his own strawberry plants!