Those We Have Lost

Orit, Rafi Svirsky, 70, 71: 3 kids mourned parents; 4th killed in Gaza

Divorced couple continued to live side-by-side in Kibbutz Be’eri, where they were murdered on October 7

Orit and Rafi Svirksy (Courtesy)
Orit and Rafi Svirksy (Courtesy)

Orit and Rafi Svirsky, 70 and 71, were murdered by Hamas terrorists in their homes in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.

Their 38-year-old son, German-Israeli Itay Svirsky, was held hostage in Gaza and declared dead on January 16, 2024. His remains are still held by Hamas.

The couple was divorced but lived next door to each other in the same neighborhood of Be’eri, and Itai was visiting them for the holiday of Simhat Torah. Friends and family said that Orit, a native of Be’eri, and Rafi both loved the beauty and quiet of the kibbutz.

Orit’s cousin, Hadas Marom, wrote on the day of their funeral: “Today we buried, with pain and sadness, Orit and Rafi in the land that they so loved, while the kibbutz they loved so much has been destroyed, and its people are scarred.”

Orit was a peace activist with the group Women Wage Peace, which mourned the loss of a “multitalented woman, with great knowledge in many fields and a great interest in music, Buddhism and art. She was a talented and creative artist, created and nurtured a spectacular garden near her home, and founded the art museum in Kibbutz Be’eri.”

The organization wrote that Orit “believed with all her heart in peace with her Palestinian neighbors,” and had attended a Women Wage Peace event at the Dead Sea just three days before her murder.

Tamar Barkan recalled her friend Rafi as “serious but with a shy smile.”

“Suddenly with one blow amid a chapter of horror you are gone,” Barkan wrote on Facebook. “You are gone with all your wisdom, gone with all your beauty… we could have enjoyed so much more of who you were — but not anymore.”

Orit’s friend Freya Kevehazi wrote on Facebook that it is “impossible to think of Orit in the past tense. She was so full of life, a talented artist, always learning new techniques especially in art journaling.”

Kevehazi noted that at the funeral, “only three of Orit’s and Rafi’s children were able to talk about their parents and the great love they shared. The fourth son, Itay Svirsky, is still missing, believed to be hostage in Gaza. There are no words to express such grief.”

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