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  • Writer's pictureJews of NY team

The NYC Nova Exhibit: Never Forget

As the date of October 7, 2023, the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, moves further into the past, the sharpness of the memory perhaps begins to dull. As protests and politics overtake the news cycle and overshadow the actual horrors of the day, the tragically unspeakable events that occurred in Israel are unfathomably being doubted and dismissed.

The Nova Music Festival was an international event that attracted thousands of people, young and old, joining together in a euphoric peaceful gathering. Occurring on the Jewish holiday of joy, Simchat Torah, it was early Shabbat morning when the terror first began. The joyfulness of the festival, held in Re’im, was interrupted by the sounds of a rocket attack – unfortunately not an unfamiliar sound for the region.

At 6:29 AM, as DJ Yarin Ilovich was on stage doing his best work, the atmosphere abruptly changed as the reality sunk in; this was not a drill or a “normal” occurrence.

Hamas terrorists had charged in to begin a brutal attack on festival attendees, and a formerly serene existence in Israel was instantly shattered. Deadly attacks occurred simultaneously in communities along the Gaza border throughout the morning, as thousands of armed terrorists invaded, killing 1,200 people total, and kidnapping more than 250 – 44 of which were from Nova, akin to Israel’s “ground zero”. The Nova Exhibition, currently in New York City at 35 Wall Street, is making sure the story is being told -- shown and shared in the most impactful ways. The exhibit is multimedia event, with video footage, photographs and physical evidence, doing a startling and successful job of capturing the essence of the day the world as we knew it changed.

The exhibition, created and directed by Reut Feingold, initially premiered in Tel Aviv and was brought to New York by Nova founders Omri Sassi, Yoni Feingold, Ofir Amir and Yagil Rimoni, joined by US partners including famed music mogul Scooter Braun, Joe Teplow and Josh Kadden. Braun, whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, had visited the exhibit in Israel and was disappointed and angry to realize that the music industry was largely ignoring this music festival massacre.

Working with the items left behind by those who fled for their lives, the dimly lit space is set up to

resemble recreate the concert environment, along with personal items from the camping gear to cell phones to clothing. Videos play throughout the venue depicting the day of terror, including unnerving footage from the terrorists’ murderous preparations, videos of the innocent people fleeing for their lives, and audio transcriptions of desperate calls to their families. Fully scorched cars are on display, their occupants killed while attempting to drive to safety.

Testimony from the ZAKA Israel emergency response team, the volunteers who respond to scenes of

violent attacks and homicides, plays in a smaller room with a warning placard -- their work of tending to the victims’ remains was so extremely intense and shocking.

Videos also play with survivors sharing their miraculous stories of escape, witnessing the death of

friends and loved ones along the way, and many left with permanent injuries.

Several of these survivors have flown to NYC for the exhibit, to interact with the exhibition visitors, sometimes sharing details of personal stories, sometimes simply sharing hugs.

Eden Atias is a freelance producer currently running the exhibition. “I end up hugging at least ten people a day, if not more. When I see someone in shock, crying, or utterly lost, I gently ask, ‘Would you like a hug?’ At first, they don’t understand, most turn to leave and then turn back and start crying on my shoulder.”

“It’s important to be strong for them so they can see the light. There are those who went through this experience, but the visitors to the exhibition feel a sense of helplessness, because they weren’t there and couldn’t lend a hand, and sometimes it’s harder to feel powerless,” she says. “I personally ask everyone who comes to simply come again, and bring one non-Jewish person with them.”

There is an all too familiar display of the hostages that are still being held in Gaza. The next room

displays the lesser known faces, a memorial to the 370 beautiful souls who perished at the Nova festival.

Each plaque depicts a vibrant image with a description of each person, including their accomplishments and aspirations. This could possibly be the most powerful part of the exhibit, with the loss of hope and innocence hitting so very hard.

The exhibition concludes with a healing room, and the eternally optimistic mantra of “We will dance again”. One can hear the stories over and over, yet even the most sensitive among us can become disconnected from the horrible reality of what took place on October 7th. This exhibition is the reminder that everyone needs to always remember and never forget, even when the world seems to have moved on.

Written by: Tammy Mark 



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