Canadian-Israeli citizen Judih Weinstein Haggai was confirmed dead on Dec. 28, according to a statement from Kibbutz Nir Oz, where she and her husband Gadi lived.
For the past 12 weeks, her family hoped she was alive in Gaza—and had maintained contact with the liaisons for the families of hostages during that time.
The couple was on a walk on the morning of Oct. 7 when the Hamas attacks began in southern Israel. Kibbutz Nir Oz is located about three kilometres from the Gaza border. Their last known recorded videos indicate the couple took cover during rocket attacks that initiated a red alert on the kibbutz.
Weinstein Haggai, 70, and her husband Gadi Haggai, 72, were shot and fatally wounded that morning, the kibbutz confirmed in the Dec. 28 statement.
”Judih was fatally wounded during the massacre on Oct. 7, and her death has now been confirmed,” read the statement. “Her husband, Gad Haggai was also murdered on Oct. 7. Their bodies remain held in captivity by Hamas.”
In a previous announcement, on Dec. 22, the kibbutz confirmed that Gadi Haggai died in the attack.
”Judih was an English teacher, who specialized in teaching children with special needs,” read the statement from a Nir Oz spokesperson. “For the past few years she has also taught mindfulness to children and teenagers who suffered from anxiety caused by the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza.”
Born in New York state, Weinstein moved with her family to Toronto when she was two years old, and lived in the city for 22 years. She held triple citizenship as an Israeli-American-Canadian, while Haggai was an Israeli-American dual national.
The couple leave behind two daughters, two sons, and seven grandchildren.
Judih’s brother, Larry Weinstein, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Toronto, told The CJN that his sister was a completely nonviolent person.
“She embraced humanity. In some ways, she was like an original hippie, a flower child. She loved music and she loved poetry. She wrote haiku, created puppets and taught mindfulness.”
Judih even taught meditation techniques to children in safe rooms so that they would get over trauma, Larry Weinstein said.
“She had classes for Palestinian and Israeli children together because she believed in in cooperation. She was somebody who believed in peace. And she actually lived so close to the border of Gaza that she felt a tremendous empathy for her Palestinian neighbours. She didn’t like where the politics of Israel were going.”
In a statement, Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, noted that the couple, even confirmed dead, are among the 129 Israelis still being held by Hamas.
“We are heartbroken to learn that Judih Weinstein Haggai, who we had prayed was alive, was tragically murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and her body is being held hostage in Gaza,” said Fogel.
“Whether they are alive or not, [the hostages] all must be immediately and unconditionally returned to their homes and their families in Israel.”
Global Affairs Canada confirmed its officials had been in contact with Judih’s family, who also had prior meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.
While reinforcing its condemnation of the Hamas attack and its demand to release all remaining hostages, the federal ministry did not disclose further details, citing privacy concerns.
Judih Weinstein Haggai is the last Canadian-Israeli whose fate was previously unknown after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel.
At least seven Canadian citizens were killed on Oct. 7, including Vivian Silver, a peace activist from Winnipeg who lived on Kibbutz Be’eri.
Shir Georgy, Alexandre Look from Montreal, and Ben Mizrachi from Vancouver, were each killed while they were attending the Supernova music festival.
Netta Epstein was killed when he threw himself on a grenade thrown into his safe room on Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Adi Vital-Kaploun, who had extended family in Ottawa, was killed on her home on Kibbutz Holit.