Those We Have Lost

Aran and Tova Goren, 33 & 65: Mom and daughter were ‘nonstop active’

Murdered by Hamas terrorists in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7

Aran Goren and Tova Goren (Courtesy)
Aran Goren and Tova Goren (Courtesy)

Tova Goren, 65, and her daughter Aran Goren, 33, were murdered by Hamas terrorists in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.

They are survived by Aran’s siblings and Tova’s children, Noa and Ido — as well as three nieces and nephews/grandchildren — plus Tova’s siblings, Aviram and Osnat. They were predeceased in 2019 by Eyal, Tova’s husband and Aran’s father, following a long illness.

Aran and Tova were buried side by side in Kibbutz Shefayim on October 22.

Tova was a longtime teacher who had retired just weeks before her death, but still ran her own catering business. She and Eyal originally settled in the Dugit settlement in northern Gaza, and moved to Kibbutz Nahal Oz following the 2005 disengagement. Following the move, they started a catering business in place of the restaurant they had ran in Dugit, which Tova continued after his death — which is also when she moved to Kfar Aza. Aran had come to visit her mother especially to help her out with a catering gig that weekend.

Aran, who was living in Givatayim, was a prolific social activist who worked for the past two years for the nonprofit Comeback, which worked to rehabilitate ex-prisoners. She had a bachelor’s degree in communications from Sapir College in Sderot, before making a career switch and getting a master’s degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s “Glocal” program in international development, which included five months working in Nepal with underprivileged communities.

Ido Goren wrote on Facebook to his sister a week after she was killed: “Arani, we went from loving siblings to enemies to friends and back to siblings. We are so alike that it caused conflict, we were and remain two stubborn people.”

“We always challenged each other, and most of the time we were an inseparable force. You were the backbone everywhere you went, with your friends, in the army, in every workplace, studies and all your trips. It was known that Aran Goren lives the life, does what she wants, and succeeds, knows how to achieve. You were like the flow of water which erodes a rock with steadfast force, never giving up and never compromising.”

Ido continued: “I will try to be closer to who you thought I should be, to what you knew I could do. I love you forever. I’m prepared to say that we are similar, ready to admit that I was wrong. But unlike the other things I may have denied, this I am ready to say again and again — I love you.”

Writing to his mother, Tova, Ido said that she always felt “like an anchor to the world when I was sinking into my anxieties. We were connected in a way that people didn’t understand… You were always there to give me strength when I fell.” He described her as a “career woman, who carried an entire family on her back. Who worked around the clock. Who didn’t sleep at night until the last moment, because taking care of her family was so important to her.

“She was always giving, always listening, always half angry but completely understanding,” he added. “You were our pride and an inspiration to thousands. I was so happy for you when you retired, I so much wanted you to start to enjoy and to let go of the burden… I have so much to say about you because I can no longer speak to you, my best friend, who I could never keep anything from.”

Noa shared online the eulogy she read at the joint funeral of her mother and sister.

“You were both so beautiful. All that was truly good in the world. Endless generosity. Nonstop activity. Dedication to the needs of others. A true desire for justice. Wisdom expressed in razor-sharp words. Heaps of humor, the darkest of humor — how dark it is now,” said Noa.

“Your light is so missing. An insane reality in which I don’t have a father, I don’t have a mother and I don’t have a sister,” she continued. “And I am so alone and so together at the same time. Together in pain with all the people whose lives you were in, who were privileged to absorb your light.”

Aran, she said, was a “girl of freedom with big eyes, a girl who fell asleep everywhere because the whole world was her home, a social justice warrior and a defender of the weak, a pusher of boundaries, my keeper of secrets, my partner in life, the most hysterically funny person I know, but also the calmest… You are magic, you are light, you are love and you are freedom. You are smart and strong and brave with no ability to plan financially,” she joked. “In my heart, there is a hole in the shape of you.”

Turning to her mother, Noa noted, “How very much I need my mother right now. It’s so hard to find the words to say about you. You knew almost everything about me. You were mostly the first person I called when I needed help, support, calming down, proportionality or just to say out loud what I was thinking.”

“You kept working as if we were all still living in the house and you were providing for 10 people and at the same time you kept friendships and leisure and plenty of time for your grandchildren,” she said. “Our hearts are bound together in a bond that can’t be untied.”

Parting from both of them, Noa added: “The loves of my life, the smart, the beautiful. The good in you will light our way.”

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