SAN FRANCISCO – In San Francisco on Thursday evening, several organizations hosted two survivors from the Kibbutz Be’eri to share their harrowing experiences of surviving the attack on Oct. 7 near the Gaza border.
Over 200 people showed up at Congregation Emanu El to hear two men tell of their experiences when terrorists showed up at their Kibbutz.
Both Maayan Barkai and Elad Kidar were in Kibbutz Be’eri near the border of Gaza when Hamas attacked, leading them to fend off terrorists for hours until they were rescued.
While both experienced the loss of their homes and community members, Elad lost both his mother and father.
Kidar is a father of four, who, with his wife, awoke to the sounds of bombs exploding that Saturday morning.
“We woke up at 6.30 a.m. to the sound of alarms and bombs. We were really surprised; everyone was really surprised,” Kidar said.
Kidar shared that his father suffered from Parkinson’s and was killed by Hamas.
“I figured out he was murdered, later I got official word it was true,” he said.
He learned later his mother was also killed. He had been in touch with her on the phone the morning of the massacre. He said,
“After two months, the army told us she was murdered right after we spoke on the phone. Her body is now in Gaza somewhere, nobody knows where,” Kidar said.
Maayan Barkai and his wife have five children, two of whom were with them when the terrorists came through the kibbutz. They hid in a bomb shelter. “
We heard the noise of the whoosh, they came to bomb the house.”
The attacks left hundreds dead, including women, children and elderly people, according to the two men.
The tragedy was overwhelming, according to Kidar, who said the bombs set homes afire, with people trapped inside.
He said, “Some were suffocated, others killed when they tried to escape the flames.”
Senior Rabbi Beth Stein shared that it’s important to hear these stories, even though they’re traumatic and a world away.
“There’s still a large voice out there saying, ‘Oh, that didn’t happen,'” she said, “So it’s really important for all of us to listen to those people who were there, who experienced it.”
Those in attendance listened carefully and there was a brief question-and-answer session following the presentation.
“And this Hamas terrorist group wants to divide us all and decimate Israel and to be able to listen to their stories is extremely important, and that’s why there are so many people here tonight,” she said.
Beth said her congregation is collectively praying for all involved in the Middle East war.
She said, “We’re very hopeful for peace for all people, and it’s very hard to watch this war happening and see innocent people in Israel and Gaza being caught up in it. And we pray for peace for everyone.”
Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU FOX 2 News. She can be reached at email@example.com.