ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Those We Have Lost

Amir and Mati Weiss, both 69: Farmer, teacher, with deep kibbutz roots

Murdered in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7

Mati and Amir Weiss (Courtesy)
Mati and Amir Weiss (Courtesy)

Amir and Mati Weiss, both 69, were murdered by Hamas terrorists inside their home in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.

Amir’s brother, sister-in-law and niece, Ilan, Shira and Noga, went missing from Be’eri the same day; Shira and Noga were taken captive by Hamas freed on November 25, while Ilan was declared dead on January 1, after close to three months.

They are survived by their four children, Ran, Michal, Yuval and Oren, and 10 grandchildren — who all lived in Be’eri. The couple was laid to rest on October 20 in Kibbutz Revivim. Ten days later, the family decided to go ahead with Oren’s wedding to his wife, Mirit, mixing the family’s pain with joy.

Their son, Ran, told Ynet that during the last conversation he had with his mother, she said that his father had been shot and there were terrorists in the house throwing grenades against the door of their safe room. “I worried that it was my last conversation with her,” he said. Shortly afterward she sent two voice messages shouting for help.

In a separate conversation with their son Yuval, Mati said she was wounded and Yuval tried to reassure her that she would survive: “I don’t think so, I think we are parting ways… My dear, tell everyone I loved them very much.”

In one of Mati’s final Facebook posts, ahead of Rosh Hashana, just a few weeks before she was killed, Mati wrote that in the spirit of the new year, “I am asking to remind us that we only live twice: The second time is when we understand that we only live once. I wish for all of us to enjoy, to live, to love, to be present in the beautiful moments and to internalize them.”

According to a eulogy posted on the kibbutz website, the couple met when Mati was working in the Eilat airport and Amir was working as a security agent for the Arkia airline in Eilat. They married in 1977 and settled in the kibbutz in 1985, and never left.

Mati was a lifelong educator, who taught and later served as a principal in the local school and also helped develop national curricula and later worked as an adviser to other principals: “Mati was a natural leader and everywhere she went she became a leader, an initiator and a meaningful figure,” the kibbutz eulogy reads.

Her former coworker Alon Gayer wrote on Facebook that Mati had a “magnificent public career” in education, and they formed a friendship because it “was impossible not to be Mati’s friend. She had bright and smart eyes, a management approach of partnership, a humanity that was not afraid of assertiveness and above all a wisdom and a deep and well-rounded perception of life.”

Her friend Yael Weis described Mati as “fire and ice, energetic, purposeful, ambitious, full of life, embracing and warm — the phrase which most defines her in my eyes is ‘the head of the tribe.’ She had the ability to connect people and to cause them to feel connected and a sense of belonging. She did so with her family, with the people she worked with, and also with us, her oldest friends.”

Amir and Mati Weiss on a trip to Japan in 2019. (Facebook)

Amir worked for many years in agriculture, and later in the local Be’eri printing house. He was also known for his musical talents, the kibbutz said. “Though they were different from each other — he was quiet and introverted, she was energetic and active — they completed each other and did everything together… They both loved nature, views and the wide open spaces of the Negev,” the eulogy reads.

“He had an incredible voice, he would sing at all the ceremonies on the kibbutz,” their son, Ran Weiss, told Channel 12 news. “He was always singing.”

At an event marking 50 years since the Yom Kippur war — during which he served — just two weeks before he was murdered, Amir sang in a ceremony at the kibbutz, performing “Wheat Grows Again,” a song written in the aftermath of the war and popularized by Chava Alberstein.

Just a month later, their children Ran and Michal sang the song together at a memorial ceremony, with the lyrics taking on new meaning: “This is not the same valley/ This is not the same house/ You are all gone and you cannot return.”

Their daughter, Michal Weiss Pinyan, told Channel 12 news that her father was “not a big talker. He didn’t share a lot of his thoughts, his feelings… but when he got on stage, people opened up, he had such a pleasant voice.”

Their son-in-law, Lotan Pinyan, wrote on Facebook that Amir had a “connection to the land and the place, with no filters and no allusions, straight and to the point yet gentle, calm and peaceful, instilled with warmth and pleasantness.”

He was “a man of the land and the printing house, and Mati was an educator and a woman of the community, true Zionists, grandparents at 150% capacity, people with good, generous hearts. I miss them so much.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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