Those we have lost

Daniel Cohen, 25: At-risk youth counselor was optimistic until the end

Murdered by Hamas terrorists at the Supernova music festival on Oct. 7

Daniel Cohen (Courtesy)
Daniel Cohen (Courtesy)

Daniel Cohen, 25, from Netanya, was murdered by Hamas at the Supernova music festival on October 7.

She was killed alongside her best friend, Yohai Ben Zecharia, while trying to flee the festival. She was buried on October 13 at the Shikun Vatikim cemetery in Netanya.

“I loved how she never surrendered to anything. The world tried to bring her down but she always smiled and gave her all,” Daniel’s partner, Nofar Sabag said.

Nofar described how already from a young age, Daniel was shuffled from one education framework or boarding school to another, moving from city to city and even living on the street for a period of time as a minor. As Nofar described it, Daniel never let her personal hardships dim the joy she brought to those around her.

On an Instagram memorial page set up by loved ones, Shiran Shperberg wrote of her drive to learn more about Daniel’s final moments at the festival, to discover what she did in her final moments on Earth. What, if anything, she tried to do to help the other helpless victims around her. Eventually, she found a video that Daniel shot at the Supernova after the attack began.

“Even during the moments when you yourself started to worry and be afraid, you made sure to calm the people who were with you just the way you always knew how. And my heart was torn apart by the moment when you said, ‘We’re going to be OK.’ You stayed optimistic until the last moment,” Shperberg said.

Shperberg added: “I hope that at least from up above you can see how much people loved you and feel fortunate for the privilege to have known you! You stole the hearts of so many people. And how could you not? All of your essence was to spread light and love freely.”

The memorial page is mourning and tears, but also a celebration of life. In every clip Daniel seems to be making somebody laugh, somehow. Smoking a cigarette and singing karaoke (Sarit Hadad, “Shema Yisrael”), dancing in a wig, clowning around with a friend at an events hall, making a friend laugh hysterically while she tries to get a bee out of her hair, dancing in a club with a drink and a smoke while “the stupidest song in the world” thumps out of the speakers.

There are also three posts showing Daniel with Michael, the dog she met walking home one day from her job at the hostel. Up until she left town for the Supernova festival, Daniel worked as a counselor at “Ne’ot Aviv,” a boarding house for at-risk teenage girls in Herzliya.

A post on the website of the Haruv Institute — which focuses on research and training to help abused and neglected children in Israel — wrote of the plans Daniel had for a going-away party at the hostel.

According to the post, Daniel was supposed to finish her job as a counselor at the hostel and invited friends, co-workers, and former hostel residents to a karaoke and BBQ night planned for October 19. Prior to her murder, she had started meeting with residents of the house to say goodbye and talk to them about her — and their — plans for the future.

On October 19, a week after Daniel’s body was identified, the hostel residents went ahead with the going-away party, writing notes to her on white balloons that they released skywards.

In an Instagram post on October 13, HaAguda, the umbrella organization for the LGBT community in Israel, wrote that Daniel’s friends said “that everywhere she went, she spread light, giving, and care for others.”

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