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“So how are you?”

It shouldn’t be frightening to ask such a banal question. In this case, I really wanted to know the answer, but I was also afraid to hear it.


We were in kibbutz Nir David, in northern Israel, talking to two lovely teenage girls we met by chance. They were 12, maybe 13 years old. Best friends, one gorgeous Ethiopian girl, the other a bright-eyed, talkative girl of Yemenite-Ashkenazi descent (we met her father and grandfather later on).

They told us they were being hosted by the kibbutz. 240 families evacuated from the Gaza envelope were staying in this paradise on earth – after they had survived the Hamas-made hell on earth.

Pulling myself together, I looked into their eyes and asked: “So how are you?”

As if a dam opened up, these smiling girls began to earnestly describe everything that happened to them on October 7th and how they felt about it.

They were from Kibbutz Gvaram.

On October 6th the kids of Gvaram were having a “kids day”, with fun activities and camping outside in tents.

Outside. My heart skipped a beat, waiting to hear what happened next.

By chance, the girls woke up a few minutes before the Red Alert sirens went off. They had to wake up all the other kids and race them to shelter. There was one shelter close enough to reach in time, another, better shelter just a little too far away.

They shoved as many kids as possible into the shelter. The rest had to lie on the ground with their hands over their heads and pray the missiles wouldn’t hit them.

The moment they could, the fathers of the kids came running to pull their children back to the safety of their homes. They already knew that this wasn’t a “standard” missile bombardment, that terrorists were swarming into the country, slaughtering Jews.

The two friends went to the home that was closest (that of the Yemenite girl). They spent seven hours barricaded in the safe room of the house. They could hear the missiles and because the house was close to the perimeter of the community, they could also hear the firefight taking place outside.

The community guard, along with the IDF battled the Hamas terrorists, preventing them from infiltrating the kibbutz and committing the atrocities that occurred elsewhere.

The girls didn’t know the extent of the horror that was happening in the country. What they did know is what classmates living in other communities updated in their WhatsApp group:

“I’ve been hiding in the closet for 14 hours”

“They are in my house!”

“They killed my father!”

Kids, telling their friends about things no kid should ever even imagine. Kids, saying goodbye to their friends because the terrorists might kill them next.

One of the girls said: “I left the group. I couldn’t take it.”

Then they told us that Koren Tasa is a classmate and friend of theirs. Koren is one of the boys whose story you will find in descriptions of people who saw the footage of Hamas atrocities:

We see, from Hamas body cams and overhead kibbutz surveillance, a father gather his two young sons, clad only in underwear, and rushes them out of the house into a tiny outbuilding. A terrorist tosses a grenade inside their hiding place. The father comes into frame and slumps to the ground, dead. The boys are yanked into their kitchen, the floor splattered with blood. The younger sits at the small kitchen table, the older boy nearby on a sofa, crying. ‘DADDY! DADDY! DADDY’S DEAD!’ One of the terrorists observes their hysteria with boredom. He opens their refrigerator, looks around, selects a bottle of water. ‘Daddy’s dead!’ the older boy tells his brother. ‘It’s not really a prank!’The younger boy has gone still, his head in his hands. ‘I know,’ he says. ‘I saw.’The terrorist holds up the water bottle, reconsiders, then puts it back and pulls out a near-empty two-liter plastic Coke bottle. ‘I want my mom!’The terrorist swigs the soda as he strolls out the door.The older brother goes to the younger. He sees that one eye is bruised and bloodied. ‘Can you see with this eye?‘No.’‘You’re not joking?’‘No.’There is even more blood on the floor now. A TV flickers out of frame.The older boy collapses and begins keening. ‘WHY AM I ALIVE?’ he howls. ‘WHY?’

Koren, his younger brother, and mother survived the attack. Their older brother was murdered on the beach in Zikim, along with numerous other kids from their school. The video of their murder can be easily found online – I hope to God these girls haven’t and won’t see it.

They told us about Gil Tasa, Koren’s father: “He was an extraordinary man.”

Lenny asked the girls if what happened changed the way they thought about life.

They answered: “I used to think they [Gazans] were people. Human beings. Now I see that they aren’t.”

Lenny told them about how when he was young parents used to tell their kids: “When you grow up, you won’t have to go to the army. There will be peace.”

To my surprise, one of the girls said: “My parents said that too. Now I know they were wrong.”

While their words flowed out of them, these girls were both solid at their core. Sad but not broken. I wanted to give them something to hold on to, so I explained: “Peace is not possible, but safety is. We need to be very very strong to keep them from attacking us and you will be able to go home and be safe.”

They sighed and nodded with acceptance. They instinctively felt this to be true.They know that this is what our army is striving to achieve.

I wanted to hug them and keep them safe and happy. I can’t so instead I told them a little of what I know about grief and trauma: “Your friends who went through horrible things don’t need you to tell them the right things. There is nothing right to say. What they do need is for you to be with them. It’s ok to smile and laugh with them. They need you to smile and laugh. Everything will be all mixed up together but if you are with them, they will be ok.”

They promised: “We will.”

{Reposted from the author’s site}

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Forest Rain Marcia 'made aliyah', immigrated with her family to Israel at the age of thirteen. Her blog, 'Inspiration from Zion' is a leading blog on Israel. She is the Content and Marketing Specialist for the Israel Forever Foundation and is a Marketing Communications and Branding expert writing for hi-tech companies for a living-- and Israel for the soul.