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Mia Leimberg

17

Mia Leimberg shines as a standout 12th grader at Jerusalem's prestigious "High School of the Arts," where she pursues her passion for music, with a special love for singing. Eitan, her schoolmate and dear friend, recalls her unwavering support: "Joining the school in 7th grade, I was the new kid, navigating a challenging time. Mia was there for me from the start. She's not just my best friend; she's one of a kind—funny, full of life, and her energy is contagious. Her kindness knows no bounds, and her ability to understand and embrace everyone is truly remarkable."
Her teacher, Orna, adds, "Students like Mia are rare. Always ready to lend a hand, she's kind, bright, and exceptionally polite. Her warmth and beauty are unmistakable, illuminating our classroom with her presence."

On Saturday October 7th, during the Simchat Torah holiday, Mia was at her aunt Clara (63) and Louis (70)'s home in Kibbutz Nir-Yitzhak with her family: her uncle Fernando Merman (60), and her mother Gabriela Leimberg (59)—Clara and Fernando's sister. Their peaceful celebration was brutally interrupted by a Hamas-initiated attack on the kibbutz and other southern Israeli communities, leading to their kidnapping into Gaza and leaving Clara’s home in ruins.
Throughout their 53-day ordeal, the family stayed together, supporting one another, talking among themselves and, occasionally, with their captors. Moshe, Mia’s father, fervently campaigned on the international stage for the release of his family and the other captives. The end of November saw Clara, Gabriela, and Mia's release in a ceasefire deal, a moment of national relief and joy, especially poignant as Mia emerged from Gaza with Bella, her beloved Shih-Tzu, cradled in her arms, who luckily survived the ordeal alongside Mia.

Secretly taken along, Bella proved to be Mia's constant companion, even under the guise of a doll. The moment they had to climb out of the tunnel, the terrorists realized Bella wasn’t just a doll.. There was a short debate over the fate of Mia’s furry friend, which thankfully ended with both of them being allowed to continue together.
Mia reflects on her harrowing experience in Hamas captivity, finding solace in Bella's company, "She was a tremendous support, keeping me busy and providing comfort."
The "Charles E. Smith High School for the Arts" hosted a mass singing event to celebrate Mia's return, symbolized by the song of "Great Light," (אור גדול) by Amir Dadon, reflecting Mia's miraculous homecoming before Hanukkah. The school erupted in applause as Mia took the stage, a heartwarming welcome back.
In a stunning turn of events, Mia's uncles, Fernando Simon Merman and Louis Herr, were dramatically rescued in mid February through a daring military operation, finally reuniting with their family amidst tears of joy.
Amidst this, the soul-stirring song "Black Sunrise" by Aviv Geffen, featuring Mia, encapsulates the human tragedy of the October 7th attack, echoing a collective longing for the return of all captives.
To listen to Aviv Geffen and Mia Leimberg and view the profoundly moving video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqlqoDFBiJY

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