“Lifeline” to be hung in every office and school in America; funds raised to rebuild a kibbutz community that terror ripped apart
It was 6:25 in the morning Oct. 7, and Gal-Lee Maroodi’s husband Omer put his ear to the window as dozens of rockets fired from Gaza hit his agricultural village, 3 miles from the Gaza Strip: “We were used to hiding in the safe rooms to protect us from rockets,” Maroodi, 25, from Kibbutz Reim, tells me.
“But this time it sounded different because there were rockets raining down on us non-stop. I told him it’s not safe by the window, but coming from a special guerilla unit in the IDF, he told me something doesn’t sound right. He heard AK-47s, machine guns that Israel would never use. He told me to take the baby and run.
“We dodged rockets and sped off down the road, warning others from the community that we are being attacked by terrorists. If we had been two minutes later on the road, we would have been shot,” says Maroodi, whose kibbutz is a community of 400 people that farm and run a factory for laser cut machine parts. Five people from the kibbutz were murdered; there are six hostages now in Gaza. She is the spokesperson for Lifeline – an art print and historical project to document the painful communication between the kibbutz members on Oct. 7.
They hope to raise money through sales of the prints to rebuild the kibbutz. All funds generated from the sales of the prints will go to the kibbutz.
They are coming closer. They are in my backyard. Urgent, urgent to Dvir’s house. Daria and Levi are alone. Dvir was murdered. Urgent. Please! Friends, lock the house and stay inside. Urgent, urgent. Please. The children are alone. Please.
These words are a sample from several hours of Whatsapp messages during the morning of the Hamas attack. They are inscribed on a high-quality art print, written in cursive Hebrew by kibbutz member Adi Drimer. She created the unique pattern, a mandala, as a form of therapy after the terror attack and now Kibbutz Reim members are hoping this historical print will be hung in every office, school and community center in the United States and Canada.
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit. They are used as a spiritual guidance tool in meditation or for creating a sacred space. For Kibbutz Reim and Jews everywhere, this mandala will be a symbol of not standing for terror, and as historical evidence that Oct. 7 will never be forgotten. All proceeds raised will go to rebuilding the kibbutz.
Art that is also an historical document
The name is Lifeline because the WhatsApp group chat was the actual lifeline for kibbutz members each in their own homes. Through the app, they managed to save two kids whose father and partner were murdered right in front of them. It helps the members tell their story: how they warned each other about invaders, about the heroic acts of men who ran through hellfire to rescue children who couldn’t close the door of the bomb shelter – because their dad’s dead girlfriend’s arm was in the way.
While memories of the horror are still fresh, kibbutz members know they will need to rebuild their homes, and businesses, and Lifeline proceeds will help them do that: to repair factories, rebuild homes and educational centers. Every dollar raised will go towards rebuilding the community ripped apart by fire, grenades, looting and machine gun fire.
“It’s a strange situation now because we are terrified about going back to the kibbutz, but we also miss it terribly because it’s our home,” says Maroodi, whose home was used as a command center by Hamas who murdered and kidnapped Israelis like Mia Schem, who was returned through a hostages-for-prisoners deal. When her husband went back he found blood on the floor, pictures broken. “They went through everything. We heard them through our baby monitor.”
We won’t forget. We won’t let them win.
“It is such a beautiful area and we can’t let them win. If we don’t go back and rebuild the kibbutz, then they’ve won. So we need to rebuild even if it’s painful,” says Maroodi. “ She considers herself lucky as she wasn’t burned out of her safe room or murdered in front of her child:
“We could hear them tormenting people in their homes. Smacking their safe rooms and laughing. Burning their houses waiting for them to come out. One family stayed in the bomb shelter. They said, ‘We’d rather burn to death than, God knows what they will do to us, if we come out.’”
Lifeline is not an easy object to hold but it is essential: “We must never forget,” says Maroodi. “People risked their lives helping each other here. That’s the beauty of the kibbutz. We are really family. Everyone feels the pain of the other. As a Jew, or even non-Jew standing by our side, Lifeline is art that every single one of us should have; it looks like a fingerprint and it’s to make sure we will never forget Oct. 7,” she concludes.