There is an abundance of help needed in Israel right now. It feels mountainous, all-encompassing, and agonizing. Hearts are broken, spirits are hurting, and our indigenous Zionism has never been more important to our Jewish communities globally. The amount of help needed feels overwhelming, and in the diaspora we often feel helpless in ways to help our Israeli family.
Today we will help just one family, and make a difference in our collective neshamas.
Shlomi and Shahar (Deborah) Mathias were brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists in their home on Kibbutz Holit on October 7. They died protecting their 16-year-old son Rotem, who was seriously wounded during the attack. Rotem miraculously survived by hiding for more than 12 hours, through repeated attempts by the terrorists to ensure there were no survivors in the house. Rotem’s sisters, Shir and Shaked, witnessed their parents’ deaths in real time through texts from Rotem. They only learned he had survived when they were rescued 14 hours later from their own hiding places.
Shlomi and Shahar were devoted parents, wonderful musicians, and passionate educators who believed in and advocated for coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. They were founders of the Hagar school in Beer Sheva, a joint Jewish-Muslim school, and leaders of the pro-democracy protests.
Recently, writer, actor, Instagram personality and New York Times bestselling author of the essay collections I Like You Just the Way I Am and Live Fast Die Hot, Jenny Mollen had a chance to meet with the Troen-Mathias kids.
“Rotem is a 16 year old boy that likes anime, Dungeons and Dragons, and food that comes in shiny packaging with lots of chemicals. He walked into my New York City apartment and was blown away by things my children take for granted. The size of the fridge, the obnoxiously loud art work, the fact that I have a walk in closet. His life in Israel was modest, as was his home, a place his parents saved every penny to create. He is humble and polite and intelligent beyond his years. He’s still a child, and yet very much an adult. He has lived through the unimaginable – and yet still maintains a sense of joy and wonder that is palpable the second you meet him. He is your son. He is my son. He is the hope we all must hold on to as we push onward through this dark and devastating time. We hope you will help us directly support Rotem, Shir, and Shaked as they move forward to live the lives their parents died to protect.”
A fundraiser for friends, family, and the community to provide solace and support directly to the Mathias family in the difficult days ahead and for their future has been organized by Susan and Aron Troen, the children’s cherished maternal aunt and uncle. All donations will be put into a fund managed by Susan and Aron.
Your contribution will support immediate financial needs like trauma care, mental health support, education, housing (their kibbutz is no longer livable), and replacement of lost personal items. They currently have nothing but the shirts on their backs. Further ahead, your support will help Rotem, Shir, and Shaked as they transition to adulthood, find jobs and living spaces, and G-d willing, build families of their own. For all their future milestones, when the absence of their parents’ emotional and financial support will be so painfully felt, your support will wrap them in love and provide a foundation.
Shlomi and Shahar were beloved souls who spread love and music in the world. If they were alive today, they would be organizing nights of music to strengthen and unify their communities and comfort us all. We pray that their belief in peace and coexistence will be a guiding light in these terrible days when so many, on both sides of the border, are suffering.
To learn more of their story, read this CNN piece.