Joy and gratitude for baby of Nova festival survivors

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Joy and gratitude for baby of Nova festival survivors

Maternal instinct kicked in as couple and friends fled the massacre at Kibbutz Re'im last October

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

New parents Astar Moshe and Shlomi Tobi
New parents Astar Moshe and Shlomi Tobi

Bneyah Moshe’s arrival into the world has become one of the most talked-about births at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus. For the baby’s parents, Astar Moshe and Shlomi Tobi, are survivors of the Nova music festival massacre on 7 October and the need to save their future child was the imperative which drove the couple to escape from the killing grounds of the southern Israel kibbutz.

New father Shlomi Tobi, 37, has spent much of the time since his son’s birth in tears. He says: “The moment came when the delivery room ID was placed on my hand, right next to my Nova admittance band. Seeing them on my hand, side-by-side, I started to cry.”

His partner Astar, 35, nods in agreement. Holding their newborn, she, too, is in tears. “We could so easily have been one of those who are no longer with us today, or one of the hostages waiting to return home,” she says.“Thank God for this treasure we hold in our hands.”

The couple live in the north of Israel, but had joined friends in the south for the Nova music festival at Kibbutz Re’im. Astar was newly-pregnant and they had been looking forward to the festival. Suddenly, the sound of guns and missiles erupted around them.

Astar recalls: “We didn’t understand what was happening. We thought it was a Code Red attack that would soon pass – the usual things. We never imagined such a massacre.”

The delivery room ID was placed on my hand, right next to my Nova admittance band. Seeing them on my hand, side-by-side, I started to cry

But now the pair believe that it was her maternal instincts which saved them, as everything in the expectant mother galvanised her to ensure her baby was safe. She led her partner, Shlomi, and some friends, in a frenzied run to escape. “All I cared about was keeping the treasure in my womb, my partner, and my friendships. We couldn’t look back. There was only death and terror behind us. We had to keep moving forward all the time.

“There were moments when Shlomi told me, ‘Astar, you’re pregnant. Come on, let’s stop, rest a bit.’ I couldn’t agree to stop for a moment. I told him that if I stopped, I didn’t know if I could continue.”

Shlomi remembers his terror during those critical hours. “Everything was random. We didn’t know where we were going or what we were running from. People were being shot and falling, right by us. Gunshots came from everywhere —and we followed her.”

The couple and their friends ran for 20km, until they arrived at Moshav Patish. “An amazing family — Nili and Dan and their children —took us in and cared for us. They checked that she was okay, and we could begin to relax. That is where the ‘penny dropped,’” as to what they had escaped.

Astar gave birth at Rambam hospital in Haifa and the couple acknowledge that “after going through something like this, it’s not easy to act as though everything is fine”.

Shlomi adds: “We try to see the glass full and say ‘thank you’ for being here. If we survived, then we have a role. It’s part of who we are, it’s also part of the trance music community and the group of Nova survivors. We are all brothers. We were all reborn on the same day. The birth of our child – it feels much bigger than it is. The meaning of a nova is ‘born again’. That’s the Nova. There is life after this terrible disaster that took so many righteous people, many of them my friends. There is life after, there is hope and there is love.”



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