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The Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem is proud to present:

Bat Yam Educators Conference at MOTJ

March 12, 2024

“You’re stronger than you think,” said Dedi Simchi, the father of Guy, who was killed on October 7 after saving more than 30 partygoers from the Nova Festival.

Simchi was speaking to a group of principals from Bat Yam who were on a two-day seminar at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.

In his lesson on crafting stories in education, the former military leader explained how narrative and perception are the most important factors. “It’s not what you see, it’s what you think,” he said, telling the educators that even the worst situations can be told for good.                                           “Narrative is the story,” Simchi said, giving an example of the Yom Kippur War. He said that in Egypt, despite the IDF ultimately routing the Egyptian army, the war is celebrated as a victory. On the other hand, Israel walked away from the war with the Agranat Commission and the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir.

Today’s war is an opportunity, Simchi explained, while telling the educators the challenges faced. “We are living within history, which is unique. It is hard to tell a story when you are in the middle of it. Normally you tell the story at the end.”

The former head of the Home Front Command also told his son’s story, who he called a “lion among a nation of lions.” Guy grew up traveling the world while Simchi was stationed in China for his work with the army. After that, the family moved to Kibbutz Re’im, adjacent to the Nova Festival that left hundreds of innocent partygoers dead. Simchi said living on a kibbutz is “the best life in the world.”

On that fateful Saturday, Guy was at the party when the sirens sounded. Knowing the kibbutz inside out, he was able to quickly bring himself and some friends to Re’im. Once there, he maneuvered, without a weapon, to find over 30 partygoers, ushering them to a nearby bomb shelter.

His friend was able to get his hands on a weapon, and the two of them stationed themselves outside the door of the safe room, protecting it from terrorists looking to massacre those behind the door. In the end, five terrorists entered, two of which Guy killed with his hands, before one of the them shot him dead as him and his friend were escaping. Both the friend and the partygoers were saved due to his bravery.

Sarit Zussman, the mother of Ben Zussman, a soldier who fell in battle in Gaza, also shared her son’s moving story to the crowd. An educator by profession, Sarit told the process of finding a school for Ben, their first born. Ultimately, they settled on a school that catered to both religious and secular students, something she said was not common at the time.

She shared the emotional story of the funeral of her son, during which she made a speech that reverberated throughout Israeli society. In it, she said “We will live. We will prosper and we will build. And our leaders must be worthy of us, of the Israeli spirit that pulsates within each and every one of us, of the Israeli spirit that pulsates within our amazing soldiers.

Reiterating the pledge she made at her son’s funeral she added, “Israel will win and will grow stronger following the war.”

Concluding with a part of Psalms 34, she read “Who is the man who desires life? Who loves all his days to see good. Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from bad and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.”

She explained that the role of educators is to exemplify this – teaching the next generation to be good.

The educators were in Jerusalem for two days as part of a once-to-twice per year retreat they do to focus on new initiatives for the school year. Due to the challenges of a war, and the stories that come, they picked “storytelling” as this years theme.

Photos: Tzahi Kraus

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