newsIsrael at War

Sole survivor of family celebrates bar mitzvah two months after massacre

Ariel, the son of slain "Israel Hayom" reporter Yaniv Zohar, lost his parents and two sisters to the terrorist onslaught.

Yaniv Zohar at the funeral for his parents and sisters, Oct. 17, 2023. Photo by Yehoshua Yosef.
Yaniv Zohar at the funeral for his parents and sisters, Oct. 17, 2023. Photo by Yehoshua Yosef.

Two months after his parents and two sisters were brutally murdered in their home by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Ariel Zohar celebrated his bar mitzvah on Thursday.

The tefillin (phylacteries used for Jewish rituals) that the bar mitzvah boy placed around his arm and on his forehead were given to him by his Holocaust-survivor grandfather, who got it from his late father. Despite the charred home, it stayed intact and was recovered by first responders.

Ariel, who turned 13 about three weeks after the massacre, is the son of Israel Hayom videographer Yaniv Zohar and his wife, Yasmin, both of whom were murdered in the early hours of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on southwestern towns by Hamas, which culminated in some 1,200 Israeli residents murdered. This was the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history.

Ariel Zohar and his Holocaust survivor grandfather Marco with a ZAKA community emergency response volunteer. Source: Merav Sever/X.

Yaniv and Yasmin’s two daughters, Keshet and Tchelet, were also murdered. Ariel had just left for a job when the attack began, and found shelter at a different home.

One of the VIP guests at Thursday’s bar mitzvah was former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Lau, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel with his older brother Naftali after their entire family was murdered by the Nazis, told Ariel: “When my bar mitzvah came around, my father had also been murdered, and my mother had been murdered, and I, like you, was already without parents.”

On an optimistic note, the rabbi added: “And yet I had a good life and achieved much. And you too will achieve, and you too will have a good life, because you see how many good people love you.”

Ariel’s tefillin were saved by ZAKA forensics volunteers.

Motti Buktzin, the organization’s spokesman, reported: “We went into Nahal Oz escorted by special forces and under heavy fire. Ultimately the unbelievable happened—we managed to extricate the tefillin intact.”

Previously published by Israel Yayom.

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