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My Experience at the Grounds of the Nova Festival

At 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, my family and I woke up. Having parked our car in Shuva, Israel, a moshav in the south of the country, we anxiously waited to volunteer. When Hamas attacked, many of the residents of Shuva died, leaving the kibbutz with a labor shortage. 

While we planned to work the grounds on this Moshav, we ultimately had to leave due to heavy rainfall from the night before. In an attempt to salvage our day, we decided to visit the location of the Nova festival instead to pay our respects and mourn those who were targeted on Oct. 7.

  When we reached the park where the Nova festival took place, I closed my eyes and pretended for a second that I was in the same beautiful place but merely to enjoy the beautiful scene. 

I started walking towards the memorial held for those who were kidnapped on Oct. 7. There, I saw the belongings of those who had been killed, kidnapped, or traumatized. I felt glass from broken car windows crunch beneath my feet. 

As I walked through the display, looking at photos of the hostages, who were now in Gaza, and saw their eyes, I felt something I couldn’t pinpoint. I didn’t feel a tear trapped in my eye or a scream attempting to escape my lips; I just felt sick – helpless, that this terrible tragedy happened and I couldn’t do anything about it. 

After leaving the park, I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to be alone, engulfed in a flame of silence and loneliness. I spent the next hour and a half trying to lighten the weight in my stomach and only partially succeeded. For the rest of the day, I thought of what I saw – the trees and rubble and the dirt on the ground where the tragedy had occurred. I’d soon have to return to the same world, though for me, it would never be the same.

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