On October 7 of last year, many of us watched from the other side of world as once peaceful towns and cities in Israel came under attack by Hamas. Thursday night, a man who lived through the October 7 attacks stood before a very focused audience at Folsom’s Community Center to share his story first-hand account of what he experienced in Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza strip when the attacks began. 

Added security was in place in an around Folsom’s Community Center next to City Hall Thursday night to insure the safety of speaker and survivor IIya Tarshansky and the many residents from Folsom and the surrounding regions who attended the special event. The evening was presented by the Jewish Community Center of Folsom and El Dorado Hills and it was reported there were no concerns or disruptions before during of following the presentation, which had everyone listening intently as Tarshanksy recounted the events of that day and those that followed as terrorists attacked and burnt down his home, they murdered his son, and kidnapped his daughter. 

The details Tarshanksy shared mirrored the many that have been shared across media platforms since the day of the attacks, however, when such details are shared in person in such a forum, its quick to bring a full room so silent you can hear a pin drop. 

“It’s not a pleasant evening. It’s a very horrific story, but it needs to be shared. It is important that people hear it from someone who experienced it first-hand,” Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum, of the Chabad Jewish Community Center shared with the media and others regarding the event he was instrumental in planning.

Tarshansky shared with guests how he and his family were hiding in a safe room in Kibbutz Be’eri with Lior, his 15-year-old son, and his 13-year-old daughter Gali. Soon their home was set ablaze, forcing them to jump out a nearby window fleeing their attackers. He later learned Lior was killed. His daughter was captured and taken hostage and held in captivity. Fortunately, she was released but that took more than a month. During much of that time Tarshanksy remained sheltered in a hotel with the children’s mother near the Dead Sea, not knowing the whereabouts or fate of their children for some time, a testimony that heartbreaking for any parent or anyone to hear someone endured. 

Thursday night, it wasn’t only Tarhsansky’s words that painted graphic images in the minds of all that were intently listening, during his presentation he shared a series of photos of his family on the big screen as well as videos. He shared images that were times of a normal life as a family. He also shared imagery of the aftermath. While many have seen similar images in news coverage, it’s much more telling when the images were being shared by the person who once called such devastation his home. 

“It’s a very small community. We live like a family, so I know everyone,” he said. “It’s a very big loss for me, said Tarshansky, who said sharing his story and imagery is important so others can see what has taken place from the inside. “They should know what happened. It is what happened,” he cites, still managing to cast a smile during his presentation, discussions with residents as well as the media Thursday evening. 

Tarshanksy was reunited with his daughter on November 13, more than a month of the first attack. Today, she is back in school and is “resilient” and getting stronger every day and is “open to the world despite what all she has been through. I am inspired by her,” he shared. Tarshansky also shared how it does not seem like seven months have passed since his son was killed. He shared Thursday night that traveling and talking about his experience with others helps him through all he has experienced, including the grief of so many he knew closely were killed and what was once his community destroyed. 

“For me, to be outside of Israel is therapeutic. It’s very hard for me to be inside Israel, inside my community, because it just reminds me of what I have lost,” he said. 

After his speaking tour, Tarshansky will return to his family who now live in Tel Aviv. He hopes his trip to the United States and talking to groups like those in Folsom Thursday will, provide people the opportunity to get a first person account of all that happened in Kibbutz Be’eri and to his family that day of the attacks and the lasting effects it will leave on them and so many others. His goal by holding speaking engagements is that he will help others be open to listening to one another. 

“It’s an honor for us to host Ilya and we’re so fortunate that he has agreed to come to Folsom in person to share his story,” said Grossbaum. “With all the confusing messages, it’s important for our communities to hear the first-hand account of someone who personally experienced the horrors of October 7th.”

Chabad carries a mission actively promotes a greater awareness of the concepts of education, morality, and decency amongst all people for many years, in the United States and throughout the world. The Folsom center, serving Folsom, El Dorado Hills and the surrounding region, was established in 2007 to provide many diverse educational and social programs and has been successfully impacting our community in many positive ways. There are additional Chabad centers located in and around the greater Sacramento region and thousands of centers around the world.

“I think one of the biggest things that we’re all accomplishing here tonight is to communicate to Ilya and to all the other people who were victims of these attacks that they’re not alone and there are people all over the world that are praying for them and supporting them. It’s important this story is told,” said Grossbaum.

<p>The post Hamas attack survivor makes stop in Folsom to share his story  first appeared on Folsom Times.</p>