We have all heard the phrase, “There is more to the story.” Oftentimes, the stories we see in the news and online give us an overview at best, but what is missing is the human connection. So when a story includes first-hand accounts, it broadens our view, allowing us to understand it on a deeper, more intimate level.

Over the past three days, we have had the privilege of hearing first-hand accounts from people who lived through the horrors of October 7 and continue to live through its aftermath:

  • Hagit Halperin, an Israeli woman whose life was turned upside down when almost her entire immediate family – including her husband and three of her four children – were called to serve in the IDF after October 7.
  • Gitit Botera, who along with her husband and young daughter, took shelter in a safe room as terrorists destroyed their village. Her family has been living in a hotel for the past five months since their home was destroyed.
  • Eitan Frankl, who hid with his wife for hours in a safe room at his home in Kibbutz Nirim. They were rescued from their home and taken to the kibbutz community hall, where they, along with 400 others, hid from the terrorists for an additional 20 hours.
  • Inor Kagno, the official photographer of the Nova Music Festival, ran into a building with approximately 300 others, where they watched live feeds on social media of the terrorist attacks happening mere feet from their location.
  • Klil Valiano, who attended the Nova Music Festival with his girlfriend and friends. In the early morning hours of October 7, after a fun night of dancing and music, they found themselves sprinting through the desert, hiding in cars, bushes, and trees as Hamas carried out their brutal attack.

Their stories, while unique, also share similarities. They all know people who have been taken hostage. They all knew people who have died. They all have lasting trauma from that devastating day. And yet, they all have hope.

The Dayton Daily News ran an informative story about our event featuring Gitit, Eitan, Inor, and Klil. The journalist captured their stories with great accuracy and included links to important factual background information. You can click here to read it.

In addition to our Israeli friends, we heard from four Daytonians who have visited Israel since October 7 ~ Amy Bloom, Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz, Devorah Mangel, and Marci Vandersluis. These incredible women met with survivors, families of the hostages, and families of those who lost their lives. They traveled to the kibbutzim and saw first-hand the destruction Hamas left in their path. They also witnessed the perseverance and strength of the Israeli people, who vow to rebuild.

In hearing these stories, my emotions surrounding the war in Israel have deepened. The war in Israel is not just the news clips we see online; it’s not just the words we read in a magazine article. This is about people’s lives. I am so incredibly thankful to our guests over the past three days who so graciously let us into their worlds and shared their experiences with us.

We also have featured pictures from this past week’s events on our blog. Click here to view it.

There are so many stories we need to hear, and I am looking forward to bringing more people to our Dayton Jewish community. And while it is important to hear stories about the current events happening in Israel, it is also important to hear stories about the history of Israel.

With that in mind, author Rick Richman will join us on Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom to discuss his book And none Shall Make Them Afraid: Eight Stories of the Modern State of Israel. Below is a synopsis of the book:

“Our Tribute to Israel at 75. This is the story of how Zionism, supported by Americanism, created a modern miracle—told through the little-known stories of eight individuals who collectively changed history. Four were from Europe, the other four from America, which reflects the intellectual and social revolutions that Zionism and Americanism brought to the world. The stories are central to the miraculous recovery of the Jewish people in the 20th century. Taken together, they reflect both a people’s return to its place among the nations and the impact on history a single individual can make.”

I hope you can join us. The book is fascinating, and I have learned so much from each of the stories told. This event is in partnership with Hadassah. Click here to register.



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