By Hilary Faverman
For Tali Medina, the manager of the dairy farm at Kibbutz Urim, the morning of October 7th started beautifully. At 6:20 am, her six-year-old son climbed into bed with her to cuddle as her husband set off on a bike ride. Half asleep, Tali heard a rumbling in the distance and thought, “I don’t remember thunderstorms in the forecast.” Mere seconds later, sirens rang out.
As the events of the 7th unfolded, Tali’s commitment to her family, her farm and her community never wavered. Her words vividly depict, “I felt an overwhelming responsibility… fear intertwined with determination.” With no bomb shelter/safe room in their home, for nearly two hours, as an unyielding barrage of rockets rained, Tali and her two youngest children barricaded themselves in a bedroom until they could run to the kibbutz shelter. During this time, Tali made contact with her husband only to learn that Hamas terrorists had already shot him, leaving him stranded at a junction with his bicycle and no help in sight. Ambulances passed him by as he lay bleeding on the highway.
As a squad of five terrorists reached the gates of Tali’s kibbutz and a shootout ensued, Tali knew that while trusted neighbors safeguarded her children, it was her responsibility to make sure the kibbutz’s cows were safe. Chaos ensued, but under Tali’s guidance, her team was able to milk and feed all 600 cows that day by working as a team, running to the cows and back again into hiding. “I didn’t feel like a hero,” Tali recalls, “I didn’t feel like a trailblazer; I felt tired, angry, and sad. I still do.”
After the 7th, Kibbutz Urim’s entire population evacuated along with the rest of the Gaza Envelope, but Tali made the difficult choice to stay and tend to her cows. “For me, there was no other choice. I have four biological children, two “adopted” children (lone soldiers), and 600 cows. I am dedicated to all of them – no one gets left behind. I will not abandon my team and my barn. We are a community, and we are here to stay.” Tali is the epitome of the everyday heroism that defines the spirit of our nation’s women.
Realizing a Vision of Female Empowerment
This past Sunday, in a landmark initiative, we at KKL-JNF founded and unveiled ‘The Road of Heroines,’ a visionary project under the leadership of our Chairwoman, Ifat Ovadia Luski. This pioneering endeavor marks a significant milestone in the journey toward female empowerment in Israel. The project seeks not only to honor the extraordinary strength and courage of Israeli women but also to set new benchmarks for recognizing and celebrating female heroism in all its forms. This KKL-JNF initiative represents a transformative step in acknowledging the vital contributions of women to our nation’s resilience and progress.
The ceremony unveiling the project, led by international women’s advocate Linor Abargil, cultivated an environment that was a distinct departure from typical memorials. It was a celebration of strength, resilience, and triumph against the backdrop of grief and hardship that has colored our reality since October 7th. By honoring 14 local women who acted with intuitive heroism on October 7th, from Nurit Cohen, ZAKA’s first female diver, to Corporal Shoshana Mali, who managed to eliminate a terrorist squad from the roof of the Sderot police station; our Chairwoman created an event focused on the commemoration of inspiration, strength, and unwavering heroism, honoring strong women and setting a precedent for future generations of resilience. While attendees felt an inevitable, inherent sense of melancholy due to the tragic events witnessed on, and since the 7th, Luski successfully established an event and a concept that transcended mere remembrance. This initiative, rooted in the power of inspiration, aims to foster the emergence of future heroines.
As the first female Chairperson in KKL-JNF’s 120+ year history, Luski’s initiative resonates deeply with KKL-JNF’s renewed focus on women’s roles in our society. Since her appointment a little over a year ago, Luski has been adamant about her belief that we, as a nation and a culture, will move forward by promoting women into management positions. “I will do everything to ensure that women fulfill more and more key positions at KKL-JNF,” she said on Women’s Day last March.
Chairwoman Luski emphasizes the critical need to bring women’s stories to the forefront, “The history of these women shapes the path — their path, my path, our daughters’ paths – a journey marked by bravery, commitment, loyalty, Zionism, and women’s strength. These are the characteristics that Israeli women embody. It’s essential to acknowledge and honor them. We are here today to recognize and respect these women, their contributions, and to position their stories as inspirations for generations of strong Israeli women to come.”
Establishing the Memorial Path
This event’s centerpiece is establishing a memorial path of trees at the entrance to Ofakim Park, a first-of-its-kind initiative dedicated to female heroes in Israel. Each tree along this path will carry a QR code that narrates the story of the heroine who planted it. Luski passionately describes this innovative concept, “We didn’t choose to erect a statue or hang a plaque; we selected a path which is most representative of our journey to vitality.”
This path serves as a memorial and inspiration for future generations, especially young girls. It represents a generational link, emphasizing Israeli women’s strength, resilience, and creativity. Lusky’s unwavering commitment to this cause is clear, “It’s time to honor the women. They deserve a space, respect, and knowledge – which I have made my mission.”
We invite you to join us in changing Israel’s narrative to include all real heroes who deserve recognition. Become part of KKL-JNF’s movement, celebrating the true spirit and strength of Israeli women, past and present.
Be the seed of the future.