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Ofelia Roitman

77

Ofelia Roitman of Kibbutz Nir Oz is a loving and devoted mother of three, wife, and grandmother of nine. Before making Aliyah, Ofelia dedicated two decades to education, serving notably as a principal at Jewish schools in Argentina for five years. In 1985, she embarked on a new chapter of her life by immigrating to Israel from Argentina, choosing Kibbutz Nir Oz as her new home. There, she continued her passion for education, contributing many years of service in the kibbutz's educational sector and actively participating in various volunteer committees. Ofelia is recognized for her nobility, modesty, and fervent love for life, her family, and the kibbutz community.
The tranquility of this vibrant life was forever changed on Simchat Torah, October 7, when Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with other communities in southern Israel, fell under a brutal attack by Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip. This act of terror, aiming at innocent civilians, plunged their peaceful existence into chaos, in what became known as the Nir Oz massacre. This dark day saw a quarter of the kibbutz’s residents either brutally murdered or kidnapped by Hamas.
On Saturday, October 7, Ofelia found herself alone at home; her husband, Hector, was away at a rehabilitation center recovering from surgery. When the rocket sirens blared, she immediately sought refuge in her home’s safe room, desperately texting her children and grandchildren for help, echoing the fear and uncertainty of the moment.
The situation took a harrowing turn when Ofelia was shot in the hand and forcibly taken to Gaza on a tractor. Accompanying this tractor were two motorbikes, each carrying additional hostages in a chilling procession into Gaza. Among those taken were her neighbor, 72-year-old Adina Moshe, and Shiri Bibas, a young mother with her nine-month-old baby and four-year-old boy, all of whom were thrust into the same nightmare.

During her captivity, Ofelia was held in a Gaza apartment under the watchful eyes of a Palestinian couple. Her story reached international ears, largely thanks to her nephew, Hernan Feler, a well-known sports radio anchor in Buenos Aires. He began each game broadcast with a heartfelt plea for his aunt Ofelia’s release, along with all others held by Hamas, making "Aunt Ofelia" a household name in Argentina.
After being held hostage for 55 days, Ofelia was released under a temporary ceasefire agreement. Upon her return, she spoke to journalists, sharing that she fought tirelessly to maintain her sanity while in isolation, highlighting the psychological challenges that individuals held captive endure.
At the time of writing these lines, Shiri Bibas and her baby boys, who were transported to Gaza alongside Ofelia, are still held in the hands of Hamas. So are more than 130 other people, who must come back home to their families.

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