Nova Festival Survivors Share Testimony at World Union of Jewish Students Centennial Gathering During Annual Congress
Event Facilitated by B’nai B’rith
B’nai B’rith International is honored to have facilitated a special meeting where 150 Jewish students from more than 30 countries across six continents heard the harrowing accounts of Arik Nani and Bar Chinitz—survivors of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack at the Nova Music Festival that left more than 360 young concertgoers dead.
The event took place in Prague as part of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) annual Congress, and the organization’s centennial anniversary, and was organized in close cooperation with the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem.
Nani, a motivational online content creator from Tel Aviv and Chinitz, a child therapist from Ness Ziona, were among the 3,000 festival attendees on the morning of Oct. 7, and among the first to realize that what had started out as a seemingly distant barrage of rockets was in fact a full-scale land and air attack by what we now know were hundreds of armed terrorists.
Their accounts detailed over 10 hours of a life-threatening race: escaping first by car and then by foot, seeking improvised shelter, ducking from gunfire centimeters above their heads and encountering moments of luck and misfortune.
In the hour-long emotional session, Nani and Chinitz recounted with moving humor and sensibility the small human details of the experience—among them a symbolic lucky bell pepper that Chinitz had picked up while hiding in a greenhouse—that the two whimsically deemed the bell pepper of victory.
Nani and Chinitz paid tribute to their friends—Dan and Itay, who were murdered in the attack, and the many other victims from the Nova music festival, as well as those still held hostage by Hamas—including Noa Argamani, a friend of Chinitz’s. They spoke of the lingering trauma and long journey to healing they are currently embarked on, the unbreakable bond that the experience created between them and their future plans as shaped by the attack.
And what happened to the bell pepper? It remains a symbol of resilience and victory.
And a victory it was, as the two friends survived to tell the story. The session was the first testimony that the two offered outside of Israel, and the student group responded with questions, support, emotion and a sense of responsibility to amplify their story: to their peers, policy-makers and media back home.
As over 120 Israelis are still being held hostage in Gaza and Israel is at war following the most devastating attack on its soil since the country’s founding—Nani, Chinitz and the entire Nova community, through their motto and their spirit, reminded us: #WeWillDanceAgain.
The testimonial session was part of a broader set of activities facilitated by B’nai B’rith at WUJS Congress, including a delegation of IMPACT: Emerging Leaders fellows—a program developed in partnership with WUJS, and a lawfare offering to address anti-Semitism on campuses around the world, provided in partnership with WUJS and the Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IJL).