Our new heroines

Last week we heard so many war stories, that we couldn’t rest and moved from one to another like addicts.

By Anat Schneider | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
An extraordinary heroine - Rachel Edri of Ofakim with her son after the massacre. October 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90
An extraordinary heroine - Rachel Edri of Ofakim with her son after the massacre. October 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90

I want to bring you here several stories about heroic women and new ways to wage war, that we didn’t know in the past.


“He asked for water, she gave milk” – Rachel Edri

It turns out that not even the devil can withstand a mother’s warmth. See if you can grasp how the lives of Rachel Edri and her husband David from the city of Ofakim were saved when she found herself trapped in her home with her husband and five armed Gazan terrorists!

She chatted with them!

She asked them direct questions about their lives, about their children about their occupations.

She sang them songs in the Mizrahi/Middle Eastern style, just the way they like music.

She even acted as their nurse and dressed their wounds.

Like any good Jewish mother, who cannot bear the thought of having someone hungry in her home, she brought out tea and cookies for them. In fact, she left them no choice but to fall “in love” with her. With rare intuition she managed to weave her own safety net.

She dragged out the conversation hour after hour, even as they stood with a grenade over her head. Until finally, in the middle of the night, an Israeli SWAT team (Yamam) managed to break in suddenly by surprise and take control of her house. They killed the terrorists, and she saved her life and the life of her husband David.

Rachel Edri in her way of waging war was reminiscent of the Biblical heroine Yael in Judges 4:17-22 who lulled the exhausted, thirsty enemy warlord Sisera to sleep with milk, then killed him.


Inner gut feeling – Inbal Lieberman

Kibbutz Nir Am was the only Gaza area Israeli village that came out of the inferno-massacre without casualties.

Inbal Lieberman, 25 years old, is the IDF security liaison for the kibbutz. Early that fateful morning, she heard strange noises. As someone who was used to the noises near the Gaza Strip, Inbal was able to notice the small nuances and understand that these noises were not the same noises she was used to. She realized with a sharp inner intuition that this time it was different. Her gut didn’t let her go, and she decided to gather the members of the emergency squad, to equip them with weapons, and place them in positions surrounding the kibbutz. For three hours the members of this squad led by Inbal conducted a shootout against the terrorists and saved the kibbutz.

We all know what would have happened if she had decided to put the inner instinct that guided her on “mute.” How great it would be if each of us could learn to cling like she did, to a dull and stubborn gut feeling, to ignore the external noises and follow the dictates of the heart.


I will not be defeated – Yaffa Edri

85-year-old Yaffa Edri from Kibbutz Nir Oz has become one of the symbols of the war.

She was taken from her bed and filmed by terrorists as they took her hostage, toward Gaza. With a raised chin and strong eyes, with a straight back and a hint of a smile, Yaffe would not let Hamas break her spirit. She looked so serene and composed, that rumors began to circulate online that she was suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. How else could you explain the triumphant expression on her face? It turns out that it is possible to be composed even while being taken into horrific captivity. In a heart-wrenching interview given by her granddaughter, she says that her grandmother Yaffa is completely lucid, then added:

“She is from the generation that founded this country. She will not let anyone see her broken.”

What a surreal moment – an elderly woman taken by terrorists during a nightmarish war – and refusing to lower her head, in spite of their anger. Yaffa became symbolic of Israel surviving with head uplifted, a fighting spirit, standing on their feet – even in the face of the unknown, as the enemy closes in.


One important thing can be understood from these stories:

No matter how advanced we become with sophisticated weapons, with the most clever electronics, and with the newest fighter planes; without a spirit of faith, without resourcefulness and without comradery, those fancy tools will never be enough.

It reminds me in a different context, of a one-ness expressed in the “Sh’ma.” Whether they like it or not, Israel is also one.


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