Those we are missing

Taken captive: Alex Dancyg, murals painted for Holocaust educator

Born in Poland in 1948 to Holocaust survivors, peanut farmer/activist missing from Kibbutz Nir Oz since October 7

Alex Dancyg (Courtesy)
Alex Dancyg (Courtesy)

The last time Alex Dancyg’s family heard from him was around 8:30 a.m. on October 7, when he was speaking with his son Mati from his home on Kibbutz Nir Oz, which lies just a few kilometers east of the southern Gaza Strip.

Since that time and the savage massacres perpetrated at Nir Oz and numerous towns and communities in the region, nothing has been heard of Dancyg, a renowned Holocaust educator and activist for Jewish-Polish relations.

According to Hebrew media reports, at least 25 of Nir Oz’s residents were murdered by Hamas terrorists and at least 80 are either held hostage or missing.

On October 18, the IDF informed Dancyg’s family that a signal from his phone was identified in Gaza and that he is now classified as one of the captives, Orit Margaliot, a close personal friend of his and former colleague at Yad Vashem, told The Times of Israel.

Dancyg had heart surgery several years ago and needs medication to manage his condition.

His divorced wife and his grandchildren were also on the kibbutz during the massacre but managed to survive after Dancyg’s wife held shut the handle to her safe room where she and three of her grandchildren were taking shelter, his son Ben told Channel 12 News.

“Alex is a totally unique person, he has an incredible breadth of knowledge, he has a phenomenal memory, he is caring, empathetic, and always wants to help people with what they need,” said Margaliot.

A mural of Alex Dancyg in Warsaw as part of the “StandWithAlex” campaign (Mateusz Opasiński / via Wikipedia)

“He loves books and he loves to work the land, that was the Zionist ideal and why he chose to live on Nir Oz.”

Dancyg, a Polish-Israeli, was born in Warsaw in 1948 to Holocaust survivors, and his family came to Israel in 1957. He has lived at Nir Oz since he completed his military service, and grew peanuts and potatoes there.

He has spent his life educating about the Holocaust and teaching other educators, including Yad Vashem guides, as well as Polish educators and public figures, how to teach about the Holocaust. He also led a program for 120 Israeli and Polish schools to meet together during Israeli school trips to Poland.

Dancyg has been recognized in Poland for his pioneering work and received the Silver Cross of Merit from then-Polish president Lech Kaczyński as well as an award from the Polish Ministry of Education.

The Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, which is connected to the Polish Foreign Ministry, as well as the Auschwitz Museum and Yad Vashem, have all joined a campaign to raise awareness for his plight and to help bring him home.

Murals with the hashtag “StandWithAlex” have been painted in numerous locations around Warsaw since his abduction, and a vigil was held for him and other Hamas hostages in Grzybowski Square in Warsaw on October 16, where a letter written by his son Mati was read out.

“A great miracle happened to us and we survived the pogrom that hasn’t been seen since the Shoah,” wrote Mati addressing his father.

“Nir Oz kibbutz which you so loved doesn’t exist anymore. It was desecrated, looted and burned. Whole families were murdered,” he said and demanded that the government find a way to bring the hostages home immediately as part of its obligation to its citizens.

“I miss you. I miss our fascinating talks. I miss your loving gaze when I come to visit you with the girls. Dear and loved father, come back home.”

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