In the weeks since the initial attack on Israel, West Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga found himself filling two roles. One as a lawmaker, and one as a father.
Huizenga’s son, Adrian, has been pursuing a master’s degree in biblical history at Jerusalem University College in Israel since January. On October 7, Adrian woke up to sirens going off across Jerusalem. He also received notifications on his phone telling him to shelter in place.
Adrian says that in the days following the attack, the normally vibrant, bustling city of Jerusalem was empty and quiet.
One of Adrian’s professors was even called up from the reserves.
“He said, ‘I’m,’ you know, ‘not going to let the terrorists win by stopping our education. So we’re going to keep learning the Bible,’” said Adrian. “And so, he scheduled his rotations, like at night, so he could still come in to class and teach us. And so, he was teaching us in full Hebrew uniform.”
Representative Huizenga credits Florida Congressman Cory Mills for getting Adrian, as well as about 100 other Americans, out of Israel. Mills is a former special operator in the military. He has experience getting people out of crisis situations, including in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Adrian flew out last Saturday, a week the first attack.
“It was 40-plus hours of travel from when Adrian got picked up to when I was given, giving him a hug in the Grand Rapids airport,” said Huizenga "It wasn't really until Adrian left Dubai flying into Chicago, was when I was able to really breathe a sigh of relief."
Huizenga also says that this experience has showed him areas within that State Department that need improvement.
Although Adrian returned home on Sunday, he received a phone call on Monday from the State Department asking him if he was safe and if he still needed help getting out of Israel.
“That didn’t make me as a federal policymaker feel very good, because we were hearing the exact same type of story from other constituents as well,” said Huizenga. “And, you know, that’s for me, that’s something else I want to focus on later is how do we get better at this? We have to get better at this."
Adrian is now back in Michigan, and his classes have been moved online. But he says he hopes to be back in Israel soon.
“It feels really great to be home and feel safe. And bless in that,” said Adrian. “I’m also praying for, for Israel and peace in the land. And that, also for the couple of students who have chosen to stay behind and say, ‘We’re not going to let Hamas win. We’re going to keep learning.’”