Yehudit Waiss, 65, and Shmulik Waiss, 65, were both killed by Hamas terrorists.
Shmulik was murdered on October 7 as the couple hid from the Hamas onslaught in their Kibbutz Be’eri safe room. His body was recovered and identified a week later.
Yehudit was captured and taken to Gaza, and her body was recovered by the IDF on November 16 and brought back to Israel. The IDF said that Yehudit was murdered by Hamas in Gaza, saying that “we didn’t get to her in time,” but did not provide any further details on her death or the timeline.
They are survived by their five children, Hagar, Asaf, Omer, Daniel, and Ohad and five grandchildren, as well as multiple siblings.
The couple met when they were both living in Kibbutz Gilgagl in the Jordan Valley, where they married and settled down. Later they moved to Kibbutz Erez near the Gaza border, before settling in Kibbutz Be’eri more than 30 years ago.
Their son, Omer, told the Makor Rishon newspaper that their father dreamed of being a car mechanic, and accomplished that goal in Be’eri, where he worked until his death. A memorial on the Kibbutz Be’eri website described him as “curious and inquisitive with many hobbies,” including collecting musical instruments despite the fact that he didn’t play any.
Yehudit, a retiree who used to work with kindergarten children and in the kibbutz dining room, was being treated with radiation for breast cancer when she was kidnapped.
“Even in her retirement mom had a full diary,” said Omer. “She was first and foremost a full-time grandmother to her five grandchildren, had an open house for soldiers and kibbutz workers who didn’t live nearby, so they would have somewhere to eat Shabbat and holiday dinner. My parents always adopted soldiers and workers — people tell me all the time, ‘How did you end up with such a mother?'”
A memorial on the Kibbutz Be’ri website described the couple as having “true love. In the evenings you could see them falling asleep on each other in front of the television. They loved spending time together, going on trips, seeing plays, hanging out with friends. Shmulik loved to treat her to jewelry that she loved.”
The couple were in touch with their five children — four of whom were also in Be’eri on October 7 — in the early hours of Saturday. But the last message was sent at 10:15 a.m., and then they stopped responding. One of their children later returned to the scene, where they believe they can tell that their father engaged in a firefight with a Hamas terrorist before he was killed, and his mother kidnapped.
After news of Yehudit’s death was confirmed, her children spoke to the media, issuing a plea for the safety of the rest of the hostages.
“It’s important for us to say that we fought, we battled in every possible way to bring mom, Grandma Yehudit home,” said her daughter-in-law Zemer. “For us, it is too late, but it is important for us to support all the families of the hostages, and to tell the world, bring them home now, so that for them it is not too late, like it was for us.”