Those we have lost

Nadav Amikam, 39: Art teacher with a deep love of nature

Killed battling against the Hamas invasion of Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7

Nadav Amikam (Courtesy)
Nadav Amikam (Courtesy)

Nadav Amikam, 39, from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, was killed battling the Hamas invasion of the kibbutz on October 7.

A member of the kibbutz’s local security team, he was posthumously recognized as a fallen soldier with the rank of sergeant major in the reserves.

Nadav spent the evening before the attack with his family in a nearby kibbutz and came home alone that night to take care of their dog. When the Hamas invasion began, he headed out to defend the kibbutz with the rest of the security team and was killed along with six other members of the team. The family dog was also shot dead in their home, which Hamas ransacked.

Nadav was buried on October 17 in Kokhav Michael. He is survived by his partner, Jessica Timmer, their two children Roni, 6, and Dean, 3, his mother Poly and his siblings Dan and Nir. His father, Naftali, predeceased him.

He worked for the past eight years as an art teacher at the Yehiel School in Tal Shahar, a Waldorf-style school that focuses on creativity and free expression. A post from the Education Ministry described him as a “revered teacher and a beloved man with a huge soul.”

School principal Yosi Sofer told Portfolio magazine, “Nadav built the school with his own two hands. He created all the infrastructure, where the sewers would be, the electricity, the pergolas, which facilities would serve the children, where to put the benches, which plants to plant. When he got here there was almost nothing.”

Nadav’s focus as a teacher was on creating art with wood, “and he had four classes, and it was important to him to get to know all the students deeply… He sat with the kids and he listened to them, he was always interested in them.”

His friend Mor Teper wrote in Ynet for Memorial Day about their last meeting, “when you sat here with us, and helped us plan our garden and what made sense for us to grow.”

Sometimes she likes to imagine, she wrote, what would be if October 7 had never happened: “I imagine you coming to us on Saturday morning on your motorized scooter, with Jess and the kids, suggesting we go out to some grove to pick mushrooms. That we hike together with the kids, and you explain to them with such patience and sensitivity about different types of mushrooms, about trees and the environment.”

Nadav’s presence, Mor added, “always gave me a sort of calm, and comfort. When you were around it was as if things became simpler for a while… You brought with you a special magic that had in it seriousness and playfulness, depth and levity, patience and resourcefulness. You always knew how to find a way to connect things and to connect people.”

His mother, Poly, told Portfolio that working with wood “filled his life. He built wood projects in the kibbutz, like the wonderful bar in the library where I worked, and he also gave workshops for adults with Livnat Kutz.”

From a young age, she said, “he loved nature. He searched for butterflies, would go out with a plant identifier, he would take his kids and their friends to the forest to pick mushrooms. It was a common sight to see him wandering the paths with a basket and scissors, or working and sowing in the gardens. He had a gentle soul, always saw the good, the positive. Nadav was a man of love.”

A few days after he was killed, Jessica shared on Facebook video of him dancing with their children just a few hours earlier, the last footage of him alive.

“This is how I want him to be remembered,” she wrote. “A man who loved celebrations, who danced until his feet hurt (and even then kept dancing), the best father any woman could want for her children, an educator, a family man, a man of love… Nadav is our hero. Everyone should know that he went out to fight for our home, Kfar Aza.”

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