Source: Sue-Ann Levy

Ester Borochov and Shira Zohar have been best friends since high school.

But never had their friendship been put more to the test than last October 7 when they narrowly escaped with their lives from the Nova Music Festival.

In a moving speech to an Ezer Mizion Women of Valour event in Toronto last week, Borochov and Zohar told the sold-out crowd – at times fighting back tears — that they wanted to relay their story to pay tribute to the hero, Ori Arad, who saved their lives.

Source: Sue-Ann Levy

Arad, 22, who’d been bartending at the event, came along in his gray Jeep and picked them up after they’d abandoned their car to terrorists dressed in IDF uniforms. (The car was stolen and taken to Gaza).

Sadly Arad fell prey to terrorist gunfire. But miraculously, the two girls survived.

Ezer Mizion, Israel’s largest health support organization, is dedicated to offering a comprehensive range of medical, emotional and social services to patients and their families.

Its crown jewel is its bone marrow registry, the largest Jewish bone marrow registry in the world.

Borochov, 20, said they got to the Nova Music Festival  about 4 a.m. on Oct. 7 — encountering so much “peace and love” from many different nationalities.

At about 6 a.m., they went back to their car to change their clothes, take some cigarettes and grab a picture of the sunrise “to remember this special moment.”

As they headed back to the party, Borochov said they saw “tons of missiles in the sky.”

Her mom called, warning her to return home immediately.

But after 10 minutes of driving, they saw five terrorists dressed in IDF uniforms with green headbands. She put her foot on the gas and “raced right through them.”

”Many bullets got in the car but didn’t hurt us…that was one of our miracles,” Borochov said.

After another car drove into them and they couldn’t see a thing out of their windshield, they abandoned their car and started walking along the highway.

When they saw Arad’s Jeep, they asked if they could go with him.

Arad told them not to worry, “I’m going to get you out of here, that’s my promise.”

But as the terrorists started shooting at the Jeep “non-stop,” Arad lost control of the car and it  flipped over three times, ending up in a ditch at the side of the road.

Zohar said she saw her friend flip and could only see her legs — that the rest of her body was in the back of the Jeep.

”I right away pulled Ester’s body close to me,” she said. “I pinched Ester to see if she was awake because I saw she was bleeding.”

At 8 a.m., the terrorists came back to make sure they’d killed Arad.

Arad’s brother Shay told NBC News in an Oct. 13 interview that the terrorists came back to “finish him off,” shooting him with a full magazine in his face to ensure they’d killed him.

Borochov just prayed that no one would see them.

”Our biggest fear was to be raped and to be taken by Hamas terrorists,” said Zohar, who had heard on the radio that the terrorists had kidnapped people.

She said she couldn’t feel her legs after flipping over but that she “talked to G-d… I just knew he would get us home safely.”

Around 11 a.m., they heard voices and saw the field next to the ditch where the car had landed “catch on fire.”

Zohar said she spent the next 20 minutes trying to convince Borochov to get out of the car to get help. Zohar was stuck there because she couldn’t feel her body at all.

“She (Ester)  told me if she didn’t come back in the next 20 minutes she would be dead,” Zohar said.

Borochov said she started running until she saw soldiers, who took her to a safe place.

She kept shouting until she was able to convince them they needed to return to get Zohar, who was still alive.

Meanwhile Zohar said the minutes her friend was gone “felt like hours” and, realizing she couldn’t stay where she was, her only option was to roll out of the car towards the fire.

“I said if I’m not dead already, G-d  is with me and I would not get burned in the fire,” she said. “I found a strength I never knew (I had).”

It was when Borochov returned to rescue that the soldiers told her Arad was already dead.

At a hospital in Sderot, Zohar said she was told everything was okay, to go home. But she wasn’t okay.

Three days later her mother insisted on taking her to hospital where an x-ray showed a broken vertebrae in her tailbone. Doctors said it was a “miracle” she was still walking.

“I needed surgery immediately or I would be paralyzed from the waist down,” she said. 

I asked both young ladies about the rise in antisemitism on the streets and college campuses of Canada and the U.S. and the denial that the rapes occurred.

Zohar said she just doesn’t think about it. She knows who she is and what the IDF and Israel are all about.

She said being Jewish is the “biggest gift” she can have in life.

“You need to go and be proud of it… don’t be afraid of it,” she said. “You need to understand it is the best thing you can have in life.”

Borochov and Zohar said they’re now trying to live their lives appreciating “every day is a gift” and that they were saved.

“We discovered strength we never knew we had in a drive to stay alive,” Zohar said.

“I thank god that I’m still alive,” added Borochov. “We are grateful to have each other.”

Author

  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.