Those We Have Lost

Chana Kritzman, 88: Book lover who established Be’eri’s library

Succumbed to her wounds 2 weeks after being shot by Hamas while evacuating from Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7

Chana Kritzman (Courtesy)
Chana Kritzman (Courtesy)

Chana Kritzman, 88, was fatally wounded by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7 and succumbed to her wounds two weeks later, on October 21.

She and her husband were both wounded by gunfire from terrorists while they were being evacuated from the kibbutz after more than 24 hours of hiding out in their safe room. His wound was minor and he survived, while Chana fought for two weeks before dying in hospital.

She was buried on October 24 in Kibbutz Einat. She is survived by her husband, Zvi “Tziki” Kritzman, their four children, Tzafrir, Zohar, Noga and Ziv, as well as 12 grandchildren and and 10 great grandchildren.

Born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1935, she came to Israel as a baby with her parents who recognized the growing tide of antisemitism in Europe. At age 15, according to a kibbutz eulogy, she moved to Be’eri as part of a youth movement aimed at building up the fledgling kibbutz.

There they lived in tents, worked the land and helped turn the kibbutz into a thriving community. She also met her future husband there, and the couple wed and raised their four children in the kibbutz. Chana worked for decades in education in the kibbutz and was best known for establishing the Be’eri library, and working to instill her love of reading in generations of children.

The National Library of Israel noted in a post on Facebook that “the wonderful Chana’le raised her children and grandchildren on a love of books, reading and the art of storytelling,” sharing a photo of her reading to her young son in Be’eri decades ago. “Her great love of books she spread like a magical dust across the kibbutz, in different educational roles… throughout her life, she read an innumerable number of books to an innumerable number of children, who grew up to be parents and grandparents themselves.”

חנהל'ה קריצמן, מספרת הסיפורים המיתולוגית של של קיבוץ בארי ומקימת ספריית הילדים בקיבוץ, מתה מפצעיה שלשום, לאחר מאבק של…

Posted by ‎הספרייה הלאומית‎ on Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Her nephew, Ori Ben Dov, wrote on X that his aunt was “an optimistic woman who always believed that tomorrow would be better… she came to Be’eri in 1949 when it was just a pile of sand, and watched it grow and thrive and bloom, and was so very proud of her Be’eri.”

On her coffin at her funeral, her family placed her favorite children’s book, “Children’s Island,” by Mira Lobe, and a book of crosswords, which she always loved.

Her grandson, Omer Keren, noted that while she was hospitalized and fighting for her life, her great-grandson was born in the very same hospital, a few floors away, and his brit mila was held the day she died. He was named Or, meaning light.

Keren described his grandmother as “an 88-year-old woman who for two weeks fought a serious gunshot wound from a bullet fired by terrorists while she was being evacuated from Kibbutz Be’eri, on the alley heading toward the cafeteria, 100 meters from her house. Only a bullet could stop this woman, and even that — not easily.”

He said that the family had “the privilege of being able to say goodbye to her. To stand around her, to stroke, to kiss her, to tell her so many times that we love her.”

Chana, he wrote, “was the most optimistic person in the world. She went through difficult things in life, and still, in the hardest moments, when you would ask how she was, she would answer, ‘Tomorrow will be better.'” His grandmother, Keren wrote, “was a legendary educator who never studied education, but she simply knew that punishment was not an educational tool. That a child needs love, to be spoken to at eye level, to be looked at with kind eyes.”

“She knew millions of children’s books by heart and knew how to tell them so that everyone would listen,” he added, noting that she was the type of grandmother “who sent via mail mishloach manot on Purim and dried fruit on Tu Bishvat. Who made cholent and shared it with the neighbors. Who would never say ‘no’ and always agreed to go on any adventure.” These days, he imagined, “Savta would say that the only medicine is to smile, to keep creating, loving, and to rebuild.”

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