Those We Have Lost

Sami and Ofra Keidar, 70: Kibbutznikim who built, tended Be’eri

Sami was murdered in Be’eri Oct. 7; Ofra was taken hostage to Gaza and later declared dead, her body still captive

Sami and Ofra Keidar (Courtesy)
Sami and Ofra Keidar (Courtesy)

Sami Keidar, 70, was murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 in Kibbutz Be’eri while his wife, Ofra Keidar, 70, was believed to be taken hostage to Gaza. On December 1, the IDF announced that Ofra had been declared dead, without providing further details. Her family said that she was killed on October 7, and her body is still being held by Hamas.

Sami was buried on October 24. On December 6, Ofra’s family held a ceremony in her honor, though they have not been able to have a funeral without the return of her body.

The couple are survived by their sons Elad and Oren and daughter, Yael, as well as seven grandchildren and several siblings.

Yael, 41, who has an intellectual disability, was visiting her parents from the group home where she lives when the onslaught occurred and managed to hide in the safe room and survive. Ofra was taken captive while out for her traditional early morning walk.

Ofra Keidar, right, and her daughter Yael Keidar. Ofra was taken captive by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, 2023 and died in captivity. Her death was confirmed by the IDF on December 2, 2023. (Courtesy)

At her father’s funeral, Yael said “your loss is already felt and I am going to miss you so much.” Friends said Sami worked for decades in agriculture on the kibbutz, and was also known for building wooden toys, playing Beatles songs on his guitar, and as a modest, unassuming man devoted to his children. He built a stable himself in the kibbutz to provide equine therapy for Yael, and was always building things until he got sick.

Shiraz Keidar, the couple’s daughter-in-law, who also lived in Be’eri, said that Sami had Parkinson’s disease and did not make it to the safe room, and was murdered while sitting on his sofa. His Filipino caregiver, Joey Pagsolingan, was wounded by gunfire and is recovering.

Pagsolingan told Channel 12 news that as the terrorists stormed into the home, Sami “told me, ‘don’t worry, Joey, no one will come here’… I miss that guy.”

Their granddaughter, Argaman Keidar, wrote on Facebook in late November that she had returned to what was left of their homes in Be’eri: “Once we sat there together and celebrated his birthday, and he smiled and I hugged him,” she wrote of her grandfather Sami. “And the next time we came to gather final memories from him, so he will be with us forever, and his belongings will be saved and protected.”

Ofra, who lived in Be’eri for almost all of the past 60 years, was remembered by friends and family as a lover of exercise, who always took her daily morning walk, loved gardening, swimming and animals — and worked for decades in the kibbutz’s dairy farm, milking cows.

Her granddaughter said there was very little left of her home went they returned — and there was no grandma: “Between us, my grandmother was the woman who made that house what it was. My grandmother was a woman who everyone loved. Everyone would pass by her and smile, say hello, in the morning, afternoon and evening.”

Shmil Talker, a longtime Be’eri resident who worked with Ofra at the kibbutz’s animal section, said she “retired long ago, but never missed a day of work, arriving early every morning. Ofra was physically so strong that it was really hard to keep up with her. Despite the attempts to slow down her pace, it was clear that nothing would help and we would all need to match her pace instead.”

Her son Elad told 103FM Radio after her death was confirmed that there “was some sort of comfort” to find out that she was killed on October 7, “that at least it was over quickly and she didn’t suffer.”

“She was very close to her grandchildren, she was a very active grandmother, she would take them and do things with them and travel with them also outside of the kibbutz,” said Elad. “At her age, 70, she was still working and carrying things and all the young people were inspired by her… it’s a huge loss.”

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