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Chen Goldstein Almog

49

Chen Goldstein Almog, a social worker with a passion for music and sports, is known for her incredible strength and keen sense of humor. She and Nadav, her partner since they were 14, live in Kibbutz Kfar Aza out of ideology, saying they would stay there in times of peace and in times of war. They loved every moment of their life on the kibbutz and never left.

Their tranquil life took a tragic turn on October 7th when Kibbutz Kfar Aza was attacked by Hamas terrorists with unprecedented violence. Chen was kidnapped from her home with her three children, Agam (17), Gal (11) and Tal (9). Her husband, Nadav, and eldest daughter, 20-year-old Yam, were brutally murdered at home, shot from close range in front of their family. Chen recounted the terror they felt when terrorists broke into their home shelter, facing the reality of death.
In the harrowing 51 days that followed, Chen and her children endured captivity under threat, moved between tunnels and a school turned into a rocket launch site, to a mosque and abandoned apartments. The family lived in constant fear and uncertainty.
The devastating news about the demise of beloved Nadav and Yam reached them through an Israeli radio broadcast they overheard one day. They were forbidden from mourning their loss."It was the first time Gal, who is 11 and a half, cried," Chen described. "We sort of understood it, but it was hard to hear."
Gal and Tal, who had been deprived of daylight for an extended time, found ways to stave off the intense boredom. They engaged in drawing, writing, and playing games taught by their captors, displaying remarkable resilience and comprehension of their circumstances.

Agam recalled moments when armed terrorists sternly commanded silence, a situation that filled them with fear. She remarked to her mother, highlighting the absurdity and terror of their captors' attempts at discipline, "He's not their dad; he has no right to reprimand them like this."
In the last week of their captivity, the family met other Israelis who were also abducted, hidden in ’Lower Gaza’. This encounter created a deep feeling of solidarity and kinship. They met several young women, as young as 19, who had suffered extreme abuse and violation. These interactions were shadowed by a mutual dread of sexual violence, a fear that unfortunately became a stark reality for numerous Israeli hostages.
Chen recounted how the terrorists ominously warned her about returning to Kfar Aza, saying, "They told me, 'We love you, don't go back home. They ominously declared having plans, clearly stating they wouldn't yield and were planning more attacks, still fueled by the fervor of October 7th."
The Goldstein Almogs’ eventual release on November 26th, part of a temporary ceasefire agreement, embodied one last scare. "Climbing into the Red Cross vehicle while the Gazan civilians were raging all around, angrily throwing stones at us, we feared the worst. The Red Cross staff, defenseless, only heightened our anxiety," Agam shared.
Chen vividly recalled the moment they were transitioned into the care of Israeli forces: "Suddenly, we found ourselves safely with our people," she said. "Hearing gentle voices and seeing compassionate eyes was profoundly touching. Despite feeling forsaken, that moment of return brought a sense of surrender and relief." She described the bittersweet moment of their release, shadowed by the absence of Yam and Nadav and the knowledge that many remained captive. "Our tears flowed freely, both from sorrow and the warmth of our reception. The heartfelt gesture from the head of the Personnel Directorate, offered me a moment of profound comfort. Resting my head on him, I felt a longing for the embrace of my homeland and the loved ones we lost."

Chen shared that she often finds herself unexpectedly moved to tears, particularly when memories of her family's life surface. "Our home was a place of happiness," she reminisced, "a spirit that persists even amidst our deep sadness." The absence of customary mourning rites has deepened their sorrow, depriving them of the usual comfort these practices bring. "We weren't able to hold a funeral or observe Shiva. Honestly, coping with this has been harder than I ever imagined."
Returning to Israel did not bring the peace the family had hoped for, as they were confronted with the brutal aftermath of the terror attack. The deep scars from their time in captivity have made adjusting to normal life very difficult. Now living in Tel Aviv as refugees, the Goldstein Almog family is grappling with the daunting task of rebuilding their lives from scratch, after their home in Kfar Aza was completely destroyed.
Back in Israel, Chen channels her energies into a fierce advocacy for our people still held captive. Her mission is clear: to keep the voices of those still held captive alive in the hearts and minds of the public, to stir action through demonstrations and whatever means necessary. "Their voices accompany us constantly," she declares, underlining the urgency of their return.
In heartfelt interviews, Chen shares the complex feelings of those she left behind, their joy for her freedom mixed with longing for their own liberation. She emphasizes the immediacy of their rescue, arguing against any delay for strategic victories. "They're still there, awaiting us to bring them back—for their sake, their families', and our future generations. They embody our future, these young women held there; and we owe it to them, morally and ethically, to reunite them with their loved ones."
With unwavering determination, Chen calls on everyone to reflect deeply: Are we truly doing all we can to help bring them back to their families, back to life?

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