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Danielle Mor and Liora Eilon

Liora Eilon // Mentor, educator and survivor of the massacre at Kfar Aza. Her son Tal was killed defending the kibbutz as commander of the community defense patrol

Danielle Mor // Vice President, Israel and Global Philanthropy, The Jewish Agency for Israel

Hiding in Liora’s safe room in Kibbutz Kfar Aza were her family, including her daughter Hadas, and her two granddaughters Gali and Mika. Tal, Gali’s father and Liora’s son, was the commander of the kibbutz preparedness squad. While her father Tal was fighting the terrorists and there were intense battles outside, 15-year-old Gali followed with concern the conversation in a Whatsapp group with her friends. When the terrorists broke the glass of the home and tried to penetrate inside, Gali and her cousin Mika hid under the bed, until among the Arabic voices they also heard Hebrew. 

When soldiers from the Duvdevan Unit entered the house, the Ayalon family understood how close death had been, and how great the chaos was outside. The soldiers knew that the terrorists were going from house to house and slaughtering everyone, but they didn’t know exactly where they were going, who would be kidnapped, who was injured, or which house the terrorists had just broken into. Gali thought that she might be able to help, and left her hiding place. 

She took out her phone and read the reports of her friends and other kibbutz members. She crosschecked between the information and the soldiers’ maps, directed them to the places where there were encounters with terrorists, and connected them with kibbutz members, so that they knew they could find safety. “Gali sent the forces to all kind of places. She saved many people,” grandmother Liora says. 

When the soldiers returned and offered to evacuate them, Gali and her family decided that they could wait, and that there were those who needed to be evacuated more urgently. But in the meantime, night fell on the kibbutz, and the terrorists returned. They besieged the house of the Ayalon family, and this time managed to get inside, but the Duvdevan soldiers didn’t forget the young heroine who helped them, and came to save Gali and her family. On Sunday afternoon, at the end of 35 long hours, when they had lost all their strength, the nightmare was nearly over, and they reached a safe place. 

The next day the family learned that Tal, Gali’s father and Liora’s son, had been murdered. May his memory be a blessing.

When Danielle Mor, Vice President for Israel and Global Philanthropy at the Jewish Agency, heard the story of Liora and her family, she knew that the world needed to know what they went through during those long hellish hours, and suggested to Liora and her granddaughters that they travel together in a delegation to the United States. 

“From the first moment I felt that Liora trusted me and allowed me to plan and build the trip, although it was clear that it would be complicated, long, and demanding, physically and emotionally,” Danielle says. “11 days, five states, thousands of people – it wasn’t easy, and the whole time we were faced with the nearly holy role: to bear witness, and turn the listeners into witnesses. During the trip we went through moving, connecting, and uplifting moments, alongside painful and unbearably difficult moments. We also needed to keep the girls safe, who for their part behaved like adults in every way and enchanted me and everyone they met,” she says.

“Every step of the journey I was filled with great admiration and appreciation for Liora, for her wisdom, sensitivity and modesty, and also for her incomprehensible courage, curiosity, and attentiveness,” Danielle says. “We became friends. A friendship that began with our shared mission, and continues with a lifelong mission and in the hope that Liora will continue to lead all the time,” she concludes. 

The Jewish Agency for Israel

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