April 13, 2024
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Kibbutz Be’eri Survivor Briefs Riverdalians

Kibbutz Be’eri survivor Or Gat describing the attacks on October 7 when his mother was killed and his family members became hostages.

On October 29, YIOZ-North Riverdale, in conjunction with its Riverdale partners, hosted a presentation by Or Gat of Kibbutz Be’eri. His mother, Kinneret, was brutally murdered by Hamas, and his sister Carmel and sister-in-law Yarden are hostages.

YIOZ Rabbi Shmuel Hain discussed last week’s parsha: After Avraham’s nephew Lot is taken captive, the text shifts. Following Lot’s capture, he is now called Avraham’s brother, not nephew. “That subtle shift reflects why we’re here tonight. If a relative, even a distant relative, was held captive, each becomes our brother, and we share responsibility to do everything we can to have them come home.”

SAR Principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss introduced Or Gat. Instead of sitting shiva, he’s here communicating with people to achieve the release of his sister and sister-in-law.

Born and raised in Kibbutz Be’eri, which his grandfather founded and where his mother lived her entire life, Gat described its deep roots. Kibbutz Be’eri’s members are his family and friends. Gat and other kibbutz friends were in Ashdod on October 7 for a friend’s bachelor party. Gat recalled hearing missiles attacking Ashdod, learning later it wasn’t just missiles, but terrorists infiltrating Israel. He tried to communicate with his family, who were at home.

Gat family hostages.

He showed photos of the terrorists’ unspeakable acts. “The [people] most lucky were the kidnapped, because they are still alive.”

Describing his mother, Kinneret, age 69, first to be taken from their home, Gat found Hamas’ videos initially showing her walking. Later videos show her lying on the ground. Four days later, he was officially notified his mother was brutally murdered. Next, his sister Carmel, age 39, was taken from the house. “We know she is in Gaza, taken by Hamas.” The terrorists then placed his brother Alon, 37; Alon’s wife Yarden, 35; and 3-year-old daughter Gefen in a car to drive four kilometers back to Gaza. Slowly approaching the border, the driver saw a tank but wasn’t sure if it was Israeli or Hamas. Alon, Yarden and Gefen jumped from the car and ran. Since Alon could run faster, he took Gefen. With Alon’s training, he and his young daughter hid in bushes for hours, managing to return to Be’eri. Yarden was taken captive. Gat’s father, Eshel, 69, was in the bathroom when terrorists entered the home and managed to hide there as each member was taken out.

Gat knows his sister and sister-in-law are now on the wrong side of the border. He and his brother have been looking for any information concerning the hostages. He has taken his story to the media, government officials—anyone who can help get the hostages released. Yarden has a German passport, so Gat has been in contact with the German government.

Rabbi Krauss then spoke. “Or just told us to smile, raise our heads high and look for rays of light wherever they are,” he said. “Those rays of light represent people who volunteer to speak truth to power and use their power to speak truth. How grateful we are that our congressman has not rested one day or one hour. He speaks truth, he’s courageous, and we are forever grateful for that.”

Rep. Ritchie Torres letting his constituents know of his steadfast support for the community and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres addressed the audience. “I wanted to come here personally to reassure you that I will never stop fighting for every community in my district, including the Jewish community. I will stand with you in solidarity.

“The highest priority of the United States is to aid Israel and secure the hostages’ release,” the Bronx Democrat continued. “The abduction isn’t simply an Israeli crisis, not an American crisis, but an international crisis. I want to affirm that the United States will stand with Israel as she needs to defend itself for the deadliest attack of terrorism since the Holocaust. Hamas’ crime against humanity is so barbaric it cannot be ignored; it cannot go unpunished. Hamas must be brought to justice.

“Israel has every right to do to Hamas what the United States did to ISIS and Al-Qaeda,” said Torres. “For me, this isn’t about geopolitics or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is about human decency. It is indecent to blame terror victims rather than the terrorists themselves. The reality is if Israel keeps Hamas in power, it runs the risk of Hamas launching an even deadlier terrorist attack in the future. A repeat October 7 is a risk Israel cannot afford.”

Torres, an ardent supporter of Israel, concluded: “Despite the tragedy and terror of this moment, there is no doubt in my mind that Israel and the Jewish Diaspora will emerge from this moment better and stronger than ever before—more resilient, more resourceful, because resilience is the destiny of the Jewish people. Israel is going to succeed on the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship. I am going to be a small part of it.”

SAR Principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss introducing Or Gat, whose family are victims of the Hamas raid on his kibbutz.
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