Those We Have Lost

Berta Shamayev, 56: Sodastream worker ‘starting to live for herself’

Murdered by Hamas terrorists in Sderot on October 7

Berta Shamayev (Facebook)
Berta Shamayev (Facebook)

Berta Shamayev, 56, from Ofakim, was murdered by Hamas terrorists in Sderot on October 7.

Shamayev was one of 13 people killed when their tour bus heading to the Dead Sea stopped in Sderot with a flat tire. The group got off the bus to try to enter a locked bomb shelter, and a truck of terrorists who drove by murdered all of them, with only the driver surviving.

Photos of the bodies of elderly people strewn next to a bus station were among the first to emerge from the atrocities of October 7, circulating rapidly on social media and shocking the nation.

Berta is survived by her four children, Sigal, Sason, Nissan and Aviva, and her grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband. She was buried in Ofakim on October 12.

The family moved to Israel in 1990 from the Caucasus, and Berta worked as a quality control manager at the Sodastream factory in Lehavim.

Elad Barades, an HR manager for Sodastream, paid tribute to Berta in a Facebook post, noting that they met close to a decade ago when the company opened its new southern headquarters.

“I will never forget her smile, the light in her eyes, the optimism, the wide heart — such a unique woman,” wrote Barades. “Berta was always at the heart of the team and the work, volunteering for whatever was needed, even in difficult times, during wars and COVID, always with a smile.”

“Berta always helped everyone, with a smile, cordiality and her characteristic pleasantness,” he added. “She was always surrounded by friends, of all ages and all backgrounds and sectors… Everyone who knew Berta would tell you that she was the mom of the department and the factory.”

Her son, Sason, told At Magazine that he spoke with her that morning amid the rocket fire when she said the bus had a flat tire. “I told her I was coming to get her immediately, but she said she didn’t want to leave the group.”

Sason said he set out towards her anyway, but was blocked from leaving Netivot by police.

“My mother, who was an active woman, worked 12-hour shifts and had many plans for life,” he said. “She traveled a lot to the Dead Sea, she took advantage of every opportunity to be there, that was her love, and in one fell swoop everything ended.”

Her daughter, Aviva told a local radio station that her mother was very much looking forward to the trip to the Dead Sea that day when she and every other passenger were gunned down.

“They had no way of defending themselves. They had nowhere to run,” Aviva said tearfully, noting that they searched for her for days afterward until they were informed that her body had been identified and her death confirmed.

“She was such a good woman, she was a woman with dreams, it was such a year of development for her,” Aviva said. “She was finally starting to live for herself. She was so hardworking, dedicated to her job. She gave her children so much love.”

Her daughter, Sigal Cohen, gave birth to her fifth child several months after the loss of her mother.

“I knew the whole time that the pregnancy would come to an end but the grief would continue to be part of me,” Sigal said in a post shared by the hospital where she gave birth. “It might sound like a cliche, but my mother was my best friend. We’re not that far apart in age and she accompanied me and gave me strength in every stage of my life, and was very significant in every birth.”

Sigal added, “This time I knew that her loss would be too difficult to bear for me, and I was very worried. It was so hard to stop the tears and her absence was strongly felt.” But, she noted, a midwife showed up at one point speaking Russian, her mother tongue, “and it was a unique moment where I felt that my mother was reminding me that despite everything, despite the darkness, she was with me and it would be OK.”

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