Carmela Dan, whose 80th birthday was on Tuesday, and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Noya Dan, were initially assumed to have been taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, from Carmela’s home in Kibbutz Nir Oz.
On Thursday, October 19, the family received word that the remains of both Carmela and Noya had been identified.
Noya Dan slept over her grandmother’s house on Friday night, October 6, a regular occurrence for the two, who were very close.
“Carmela was in some ways like every ‘savta,'” said her cousin Abbey Onn, a Herzliya resident who has been representing the extended family in the media over the last 12 days. “She cooked and spoiled and they were a very close family, they all lived in the same kibbutz.”
Carmela Dan was a woman who loved beauty, added Onn, with a deep passion for performance and dance and the family would often record videos together.
Her granddaughter, Noya, who was on the autism spectrum, was a big fan of Harry Potter.
When a photo of Noya, dressed up as a Hogwarts student and holding a copy of Harry Potter, made its way to author J.K. Rowling, she expressed her support on X for Israel and for Noya’s safe return.
Kidnapping children is despicable and wholly unjustifiable. For obvious reasons, this picture has hit home with me. May Noya and all hostages taken by Hamas be returned soon, safely, to their families. https://t.co/YIbf3egib4
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 16, 2023
Carmela Dan was famous for her cookies, too, said Onn, whose mother and Carmela were first cousins.
Dan was born in Israel to an American father who was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and immigrated to Israel 100 years ago, becoming a founding member of Kibbutz Ein Hashofet.
She had dementia and heart issues and lived on Kibbutz Nir Oz, near her daughter and son-in-law, who are divorced and have four children.
Dan’s son-in-law, Ofer Calderon, and two of his three children, Erez and Sahar, are still missing. The three were last heard from as they escaped from their shelter through the window on October 7, into the fields of the kibbutz.
Gaia Calderon, Ofer Calderon’s eldest daughter, is 21 and lives in Tel Aviv.
Hadas Calderon, Ofer’s ex-wife, was in the sealed room of her home with their youngest child, and held the handle of the sealed room against the terrorist, said cousin Abbey Onn.
“She couldn’t open her hand, and her arm is black and blue,” said Onn.
Twelve-year-old Noya and mother, Galit Dan, had moved to Kissufim several months ago with Noya’s younger sister. They hid in their sealed room and were able to keep the door locked against the terrorists.