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Global memorial commemorates 30 days since massacre

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“Since Shabbat morning, Simchat Torah, on 7 October, our hearts have been bleeding. The destruction and terror will be with all of us forever. The loss of 1 400 men, women, elderly people, and children in one day is unimaginable.”

With these words, an international memorial ceremony on 5 November to commemorate 30 days since the Israel massacre began, bringing together Jews from Israel, where the ceremony was held, and representatives of 102 communities in 31 countries online. They included South Africa alongside Holland, Hungary, France, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, Britain, Ethiopia, and Ivory Coast, among others.

The World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), and Keren Hayesod joined together at the National Institutions Building in Jerusalem for the ceremony, which was livestreamed around the world.

“Due to the tense security situation, this event takes place without an audience but is livestreamed to Jewish communities in Israel and around the world,” said the host. “The control room that connects this event to the rest of the world is in the city of Sderot, which was severely damaged in the massacre and its residents evacuated. It’s a disaster that affects every Jew, wherever they are, everywhere in the world. Tonight, the entire Jewish people is grieving the lives of those who were murdered”.

The chairs of each of the organisations behind the event, as well as Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, together with his wife, Michal, lit candles in memory of the people killed in the massacre. In all, 1 400 candles were lit.

“Israel will remember the wishes and boldness of those who were killed in this fight. The soldiers will always be victorious, and will be remembered in the hearts of Israel from generation to generation,” said JNF Chairperson Ifat Ovadia-Luski.

Sharon Liebstein, the sibling of Ofir Liebstein, the head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council Region, who died in the massacre, said, “I’m here today carrying in my heart the heavy feelings of pain and grief of the representatives of the families of the dead, the missing, and the captured.

“Since 7 October, we are one family, and our story and your story represent the 1 400 souls that we lost, of which four are in our little family – Mila, Netta, Nitzan, and Ofir. We’re facing a heartbreaking pain. A predicament that connects us all,” Liebstein said.

“My brother came face to face with Hamas terrorists and died on the morning of 7 October together with his family,” said Liebstein. “At 06:30 that morning, we heard that terrorists had broken into the kibbutz of Kfar Aza. My brother was shot and killed outside the house under an olive tree. My brother’s name was the first name published of those who were killed,” Liebstein said.

“Ofir always said that their house in Kfar Aza was 95% heaven and 5% hell. We celebrated holidays at the kibbutz every year for 25 years. He was the anchor and heart of our family,” said Liebstein.

“Jewish communities in the diaspora were always close to Ofir’s heart. He dedicated himself to bridging communities in Israel with communities abroad. He was the chairperson of the global Habonim Dror movement, and was involved with leadership programmes including Kibbutz Ulpan and Hamsa,” said Liebstein.

“Although he may not be with us physically, in soul, he will continue to implement his vision of bringing people together and doing good for our country and the world,” said Liebstein.

Liebstein and the children from the centre for integration in Sderot sang Loh yihiyeh as the words “Am Yisrael Chai” (the people of Israel live) were projected onto the building behind them.

The ceremony ended with the words, “The war isn’t over. Shake off the dust, rise from the ashes. Terrorism will be defeated.”

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