Those we have lost

Bnayahu Bitton, 22: Musician who always had a guitar at hand

Murdered while trying to flee the Supernova music festival on October 7

Benayahu Bitton (Courtesy)
Benayahu Bitton (Courtesy)

Bnayahu Bitton, 22, from Jerusalem, was murdered by Hamas terrorists next to Kibbutz Be’eri after fleeing the Supernova music festival on October 7.

Surveillance footage from that morning shows Bitton and two friends, Yonatan Samerano and Maor Gratzyani, fleeing the rave and arriving at the gate to Be’eri, seeking safety. There they were ambushed and all shot dead by a group of Hamas terrorists. Later, terrorists stole Bitton’s car and Samerano’s body was taken by two men, including a UNRWA worker, and loaded into a white jeep and taken to Gaza, where his body remains.

Bitton is survived by his parents, Ital and Eli, his two younger sisters Yael and Avigail, and several siblings from his parents’ first marriages, including sisters Nofar and Noa and brother Assaf. He was buried on October 14 in Jerusalem. On the day of his funeral, a new niece was born to his brother Assaf.

His family owns a flower shop in Bayit Vegan, where Bnayahu would help out from time to time. While he grew up observant, attending Haredi schools, in later years he moved away from the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, as did several of his siblings.

He had completed his army service — in the elite Egoz command unit — just a month before he attended the rave, and was looking to continue his path with music, including exploring enrolling in music studies, his family said.

Just a few weeks before he was killed, Bitton, a budding musician, auditioned for Hakochav Haba, the singing contest which selects Israel’s Eurovision contestant. While playing the guitar, he sang “Ruach Hayam” by Ofer Levi in an early round of the auditions.

“When he was born, light entered into the house,” his sister, Noa, told a Kan radio program.

“Since he was little, around 6, he was involved in music, my mother sent him to learn how to play the darbuka,” she said, noting that music helped him with his ADHD struggles. “He would play and drum and he had a wonderful sense of rhythm.”

In later years, she said, he picked up the guitar, like all of his siblings, “and he would play all sorts of different strange instruments… He played a lot and he left so many videos of him singing, things he wrote and composed,” she said.

“He was always playing — you couldn’t find Bnayahu without a guitar in one hand and a cigarette in his mouth, and usually beer in his other hand. He was always singing, we would jam together, the sisters with our quieter voices and he with his deep and strong throaty voice, and the neighbors always would say that they could only hear his voice.”

The last video he posted on Instagram, on October 5, was a cover of him singing and playing “Tir’i Ahuvati” (Look, My Love) by Osher Cohen.

His four sisters sat down with the Kan public broadcaster in December to discuss their grief and the loss of their brother.

“He was my best friend and my big brother,” said Yael. “He was meant to be my support system in life, and I his. We had plans, and now we don’t.”

His sister Nofar posted a drawing of him on Facebook on her birthday, writing: “My beloved Bnayahu, today I am celebrating my birthday without you. All I wanted to do today was to draw you, to go over the features of your face and to describe your spirit. I am imagining how you would sing to me, how I would hug you hard, how we would drink a shot together and raise a glass to life. I love you and I miss you so much I can’t breathe.”

Speaking to the Makor Rishon newspaper, his mother, Ital, said that “Bnayahu looked for the path to true and simplicity. In the Haredi world he didn’t find the truth. He looked in other places, and found authentic people at music festivals — people full of love and joy. The simplicity united them. This was their Simhat Torah.”

Ital said that her son “knew how to pay attention to people who were overlooked. He had an outlook on the world as if he had come to fulfill a specific purpose. Bnayahu was the glue of the family.”

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