Those we have lost

Ofir Erez, 57: Tour guide, ‘incredibly funny’ community theater actor

Killed on October 7 by Hamas terrorists at the gate of Kibbutz Sufa

Maj. (res.) Ofir Erez (IDF)
Maj. (res.) Ofir Erez (IDF)

Ofir Erez, 57, from Kibbutz Sufa, was killed by Hamas terrorists at the gate to his kibbutz on October 7.

He is survived by his wife Yael, and their two children, Dan and Ido, as well as his parents, Pnina and Zvi and siblings Doron, Gil and Amit.

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

Erez had made plans to visit his mother in Rishon Lezion that morning and was leaving his kibbutz at the same time that terrorists were entering. They sprayed his car with bullets, killing him instantly. The event was filmed by the cameras at the kibbutz guard house as well as the Hamas terrorists’ body cameras.

His funeral was held in Rishon Lezion on October 17 and he was buried in Avshalom. Erez was a company commander in the Nahal Brigade during his military service and later served as a member of Kibbutz Sufa’s security team. He was a tour guide with a vast knowledge of Israel’s flora and fauna.

His nephew, Shahar Erez, wrote on Facebook that it was strange to eulogize him “when just a few weeks ago we sat at Rotem’s and ate and laughed. So many memories are rising up, from ‘climb on the tall uncle’ as a toddler, excitement to meet you on our school trip and being excited in front of the whole class that my uncle is the tour guide, to our final conversations as adults who never really grew up.”

Shahar wrote, “I hope you continue telling jokes and riddles in heaven, I’m sure everyone there will love you, they couldn’t not. You loved and knew every stone and plant in this land, and you were murdered just for living here.”

On what would have been his 58th birthday, his son, Dan, wrote on Facebook, “Because of who you are, I thought to myself you’d prefer to receive a happy blessing instead of a sad eulogy.”

Dan noted that he has heard from so many of his father’s friends since he was killed. “They told me what kind of person you were, and of course, I knew it all, but to get to hear it from so many people is refreshing. Between you and me, you always told me that 120 is a really extreme age to live to, and you wanted to ‘cut out early.’ I’ll admit it was a bit of an extreme way, but I accept it all for the best… You were there for so many people, you were a sponge of feelings, you took care of, helped, hugged and enveloped but now is the time to center on your own happiness — wherever you go, just be happy.”

“Ofir was an incredibly funny man,” his wife Yael told Kan in a November 4 interview. “His humor was idiotic sometimes, but everyone loved it. He acted in the community theater. He loved to do impressions, he loved to act — it was part of his personality.”

“We’re still together,” Yael said of her late husband. “He’s with me in my heart.” She told Kan that she still sends him WhatsApp messages nearly every day.

Motioning to the gold pendant around her neck, Yael said, “I carry him here. Just last year, this is what he gave me for my birthday. A heart, with our faces engraved on it.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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