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Clara Rosa Merman

63

Clara Rosa Merman stands as the eldest sibling in a deeply warm, close-knit, and loving family hailing from Argentina. She and her sister made Aliyah with a group of youths from the HaShomer HaTzair movement, followed by their brother. Since 1982, Clara has called Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak her home, dedicating herself as a nurturing mother and grandmother. Known for her unwavering optimism, Clara looks on the bright side of life, bolstered by her remarkable bond with her siblings, with whom she converses daily over the phone.
Professionally, Clara has been the legendary kindergarten teacher of the kibbutz's children for the last thirty years. Recently she has pivoted her focus towards supporting the elderly and families at risk. Clara has a talent and passion for baking cakes, desserts, and all things sweet. When her family proposed she turn this passion into a profession, Clara modestly responded that her secret ingredient was simply love - not something she wished to commercialize, insisting, "It is for the family." Her daughters speak of her as someone who never hesitates to fulfill any request, always ready to extend her support to her family, her community, and her people.
On October 7th, during a familial gathering at Clara and her partner Louis's (aged 70) residence in Kibbutz Nir-Yitzhak to celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah, tragedy struck.
The guests included Clara's brother Fernando Merman (60), their sister Gabriela Leimberg (59), and her teenage daughter, Mia Leimberg. This harmonious family time was shattered as the Hamas terror organization launched a brutal attack on the kibbutz among other communities in southern Israel, resulting in the kidnapping of all five family members into the Gaza Strip, leaving their home completely destroyed.

Throughout their 53 days of captivity, the family stayed together, supporting one another, talking among themselves and, curiously, also with their captors.
Maayan and Geffen, Clara's daughters, joined the fervent international campaign advocating for their mother's and the other hostages' immediate release.
Clara, Gabriela and Mia were liberated from Hamas's grip in late November, as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement. Adding to the astonishment was the release of Bella, Mia's adorable Shih-Tzu dog, a well-kept secret, held under Mia’s pajamas.
Between the night of February 11th and 12th, 2024, after 129 days of captivity, Fernando Simon Merman and Louis Herr were rescued in a meticulously orchestrated, top-secret special military operation, brought to safety and into their loved ones’ arms.

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