A damaged home at Kibbutz Be'eri, seen on Nov. 6, 2023, one month after Hamas' attack on Israel. (Photo/Tomer Persico via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0)
A damaged home at Kibbutz Be'eri, seen on Nov. 6, 2023, one month after Hamas' attack on Israel. (Photo/Tomer Persico via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oct. 7 survivors to tell their harrowing stories at Emanu-El in S.F.

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, those who endured the horror of the Oct. 7 attacks are going public in an effort to keep the stories of that day alive.

Maayan Barkai and Elad Kedar and their families are from Kibbutz Be’eri. Located only 2 miles from the Gaza border, it was one of the sites devastated by the attacks, with more than 90 Be’eri residents massacred and as many as 30 taken hostage.

To honor their fellow kibbutzniks, and to tell their own stories, Barkai and Kedar will be speaking at 6 p.m. tomorrow at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El. The event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Jewish Community Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area. Organizers say the event is educational and not a fundraiser.

“It is crucial for us to bear witness and hear directly from survivors of these atrocities — especially as misinformation about these attacks continues to spread,” CEO of JCRC Tye Gregory said in an email to J. “We are deeply grateful to Maayan Barkai and Elad Kidar for sharing their stories with us to better understand the scale of devastation inflicted on Israeli society and ensure such attacks can never occur again.”

Barkai and Kedar have been speaking across the country, telling a harrowing story of survival. According to a press release for the event, on Oct. 7 Barkai, his wife and five children were barricaded in their safe room for more than 20 hours. At one point their house was set on fire and they had to escape in the middle of gunfire. Kidar was home in the kibbutz with his wife and two of their four children when the attack happened. They survived, but his elderly father was killed, the press release said.

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for Victims of Terror has been instrumental in bringing speakers from Israel to the U.S. At the Z3 conference in Palo Alto on Nov. 5, head of JAFI’s North America delegation Neta Katz told the audience that the fund, which has been running for more than 20 years, has handed out as many grants since Oct. 7 as it had in the first 20 years of operation.