New York Gov. Kathy Hochul learned of her father’s death during her ongoing visit to Israel while trying to show support for the Jewish state, and slipped a note grieving her loss into Jerusalem’s Western Wall holy site on Thursday. 

Hochul, a Democrat, learned her father, John Courtney, 87, died overnight from a brain hemorrhage in Florida. The news came on her second day in Israel amid its war with Hamas. 

While at the Western Wall, Hochul appeared to wipe away a tear before placing a handwritten note with prayers for Israel and for her father into a crack in the limestone wall.


“I pray for my father, who cherished his visit to this Holy Land, and who passed during the night,” Hochul’s handwritten message read, the New York Post reported. 

Her father’s death came as Hochul met with Israeli leaders and displaced families impacted by Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 cross-border attack on Israeli civilians. Israel has since declared war on the terrorist group. 

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed and roughly 200 others were abducted and taken into Gaza by Hamas. Gaza’s Health Ministry said Thursday that 3,785 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 12,500 others have been wounded since the outbreak of the war.

Hochul met with Israeli families displaced by the conflict and heard painful stories from families of American citizens taken hostage by Hamas and from Israelis who have been wounded during the fighting. She also held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, reiterating New York’s solidarity with Israel.

A nonprofit organization is funding travel costs for Hochul and her staff, and the state is covering the costs for her security detail, according to the governor’s office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.