Day 57 Of The War: Gabriela, Mia and Bela Are Home

Mia and Bela, first morning at home. Courtesy of the artist
Mia and Bela, first morning at home. Courtesy of the artist

On October 26th,  almost twenty days after the massacre in southern Israel, Elahe Izadi, the co-host of the daily podcast at The Washington Post, interviewing Moshe Leimberg from Jerusalem. His wife, Gabriela, and daughter Mia were kidnapped along with three of Gabriela’s extended family members by Hamas and taken to Gaza while visiting Gabriela’s sister in one of the Kibbutzim in the south.

Throughout the war, I have listened to numerous radio programs and podcasts about the kidnapped, but this particular program stayed with me. The host displayed genuine interest in learning about this family, asking Leimberg questions about their life before October 7th and his experiences while awaiting the return of his wife and daughter. It’s not easy to interview someone whose world has collapsed, yet Izadi’s  intimate yet respectful approach brought tears to my eyes.

The first question was about how he and his wife met. Moshe Leimberg  (59), a Native American, and Gabriela (59), a native Argentinian, met online and married a year and a half later. Their daughter, Mia (17),  is a student at Jerusalem High School for the Arts school in Jerusalem and a singer. Leimberg talked about Mia’s pride in her beautiful hair, and explained that since he was worried that she might be coerced by Hamas to shave her hair, he shaved his own hair in solidarity with his daughter. He shared that as Mia is their only child, both he and his wife dote on her.

Gabriela, Mia’s mother, is a social psychologist working with autistic adults, both Israeli and Arab. Leimberg mentioned that her clients view her as a second mother. When Gabriela and Mia visited their family, they brought along their beloved dog, Bela. Moshe spoke about the special bond their daughter shares with the dog.

At the end of the interview Izadi told Moshe Leimberg that that she enjoyed hearing about his family and promised to keep thinking about them, I felt the same. It was a great relief to learn that, after 53 days as hostages in Gaza, Gabriela, Mia, and her aunt Clara, were among the freed  hostage, who finally returned home. Mia with her beautiful hair, carrying  her dog Bela in her arms. This was a big surprise as her father, and everybody else, was sure that the dog got lost on October 7th.

The great artist and activist Shoshke Engelmayer paints the return of the hostages on a postcard, each day.  He  kindly allowed me to post here the one with Mia and Bela.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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