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Teenager Witnessing Parents’ Death in Hamas Attack Expresses Desire to Return Home

Rotem Matias longs for the small joys that once filled his everyday life. Gone are the days of savoring the “perfect” pasta dish teeming with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and basil, a culinary delight no longer prepared for him. The cherished moments spent with his mother, Shachar, post-school hours spent conversing about his day, and the melodic presence of his father Shlomi, whose musical talents intertwined with their family history from Rotem’s earliest recollections.

While most children were read bedtime stories by their parents, Rotem’s father strummed the guitar and serenaded him to sleep. This idyllic world was shattered when Hamas invaded their home in the Holit kibbutz, where Rotem, shielded by his parents’ bodies, endured the harrowing sounds of their demise. Amidst the chaos, he sustained injuries from the gunfire and sought refuge for over seven hours alongside their lifeless forms.

At the age of 16, on October 7, Rotem joined the ranks of 20 orphaned children, while another 96 were left with a sole surviving parent. Now 17, residing with his uncle Aron Troen, Rotem endeavors to reconstruct a semblance of normalcy from the shattered remnants of his past. Despite the haunting memories etched in his mind, he harbors a deep desire to return to the Holit kibbutz, his childhood abode, acknowledging that the events of that tragic day will forever shape his existence.

His days are now spent attending a new school near his uncle’s residence, striving to excel academically and pave a path towards a new beginning. Engaging in activities like playing Mortal Kombat on PlayStation, strolling with his resilient canine companion Marko, and honing his drumming skills on an electric set, Rotem seeks solace amidst the turmoil that has engulfed his life.

As fighter jets thunder overhead, a testament to the ongoing conflict, Rotem’s dark humor emerges, offering a glimpse into his coping mechanism. Amidst the nation’s turmoil following the Hamas onslaught that claimed numerous lives and captives, Rotem finds solace in the mundane routines of daily life, a stark contrast to the profound loss he has endured.

While the nation grapples with the aftermath of the tragedy, Rotem finds himself disillusioned by the media’s fixation on the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths rather than celebrating their vibrant lives. The legacy of his parents, both musicians, educators, and advocates for peace, transcends the confines of tragedy, resonating through their commitment to bilingual education and humanitarian causes.

Navigating the complexities of bureaucracy and grappling with the challenges of orphanhood, Rotem yearns for independence amidst the outpouring of well-intentioned assistance. His resilience shines through as he embarks on driving lessons and envisions the liberty of owning a car, symbolizing a newfound sense of autonomy in the face of adversity.

In the midst of rebuilding his shattered world, Rotem’s poignant tribute to his parents encapsulates the essence of their enduring love and guidance. While the void left by their absence remains profound, their legacy of unwavering devotion serves as a guiding light, inspiring Rotem to seek solace in the memories of their boundless love.