Yesterday, November 7th, memorial ceremonies were held in many places all over Israel to mark one month since the October 7th massacre. During these ceremonies, Israelis held photos of the 242 hostages in Gaza, among them is Yarden Roman Gat, a 36-year-old woman (she turned 36 in Gaza), the mother of Gefen, and the wife of Alon. Yarden and her family were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Beeri, but they were able to flee. Yarden was captured again by Hamas, while her husband and three-year-old daughter were able to escape. Her cousin, Maya Roman, together with other family members, is very active in lobbying for Yarden’s release. She has also written some beautiful and personal posts on facebook about her cousin. I know Maya from our activism and have been following her efforts on behalf of Yarden and the other hostages. I asked for her permission to translate one of her posts, and here it is:
On October 22nd Maya writes:
“Today is Yarden’s 36th birthday. I am 8 months older than her, and we have always been together at every family event. We are the closest family members in age. Today I am in Berlin with her family; they are trying to do everything so she can come back to us, but she is not here. It’s a surreal and illogical experience, and I can’t process it. I am amazed by the strength of her brothers and her family, by how well they know how to work together, and to recruit more people to help their cause. In all of this, there is a huge void. The quiet and self-confident presence of Yarden is not here.
We are perhaps the two biggest opposites in the family. I read, write, and argue, full of opinions, and urbane. She is like a country mouse, a physiotherapist, never felt the need to dig too much, and she is a champion in competitive climbing.
I strongly feel her absence in times when things get out of control, when everyone is working and talking in a frenzy, and there is no one to calm us down, to remind us that what worries us is not a matter of life and death. And actually, this time it is.
For the last two weeks, I have been trying to write sophisticated texts for the press and explain why there is a moral obligation to return the hostages, but in the end, I just want my cousin back because our family is incomplete without her. We are doing everything we can to get her back, but I need you to help us as well so that you don’t forget how much each and every hostage is a whole world. They are part of a huge family that wouldn’t be the same without them.
It’s strange to write a happy birthday message, so maybe I’ll just wish Yarden to be with us already so we can celebrate together. Miss you so much.”