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The Times of Israel quoted B’nai B’rith Pres. Seth Riklin in article about Oct. 7 survivor testimony during the Conference of Presidents 2024 leadership mission to Israel – the group’s first delegation to the south of Israel since Hamas’ attack.

Read in the Times of Israel.

On the grounds of the Supernova music festival massacre near Re’im, dozens of leaders of American Jewry quietly mourned the devastating aftermath of a rare moment of helplessness in the history of a nation built on the ethos of self-reliance.

As they inspected the grounds on Monday, many of the visitors were still processing the chilling words of Bella Haim, a Holocaust survivor from Kibbutz Gvulot near Gaza whose grandson Yotam was abducted from Be’eri and accidentally killed in Shejaiya by Israeli troops after escaping captivity.

“I never imagined that in this country, something like this could ever happen,” Bella Haim said during a talk in Kibbutz Magen with the visitors, members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations umbrella group’s first delegation to the south of Israel since October 7.

But the visitors also heard on Monday an uplifting testimony that highlighted the resilience of many Israelis during and after October 7. The testimony, a relatively unknown account, was by Eran Masas, an army veteran from the Haifa region who singlehandedly coordinated multiple search and rescue operations in the border Gaza area while pretending to be an on-duty Israel Defense Forces officer to reassure stranded civilians — even though no one had authorized him to take any action.

Capturing both the national weaknesses and strengths laid bare by the trauma of October 7, when 3,000 Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and murdered about 1,200 people, the visitors’ encounters left them deeply moved — many to tears – and reaffirmed their confidence in Israeli society’s ability to transcend one of the worst crises in the country’s history, several of them said.

“It showed me that this is a place that, when you see someone in need, people don’t think about who to call. You’re it, it’s on you,” Seth J. Riklin, the president of B’nai B’rith International, said as tears ran down his face after the 40-minute talk by Masas. “Israelis and Texans have that in common,” added Riklin, a sustainable energy entrepreneur based in Houston.


At the end of the testimony, B’nai B’rith International president Riklin approached Masas to hug him. “I want to invite you to come visit Texas someday soon when this is over,” Riklin told Masas. “It’s a great place to relax and forget about all this business for a while.”

Read the full article on the Times of Israel.