Vivian Silver’s family and friends believed for more than five weeks that the Israeli-Canadian peace-activist originally born in Winnipeg, was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists from her kibbutz home near the Gaza Strip on the morning of Oct. 7.
But on Monday, Nov. 13, her family in Canada was informed that Silver, 74, had not been captured and taken hostage. Sadly, she had been murdered the day of the barbaric attack, although her remains were not identified until now.
A spokesperson for the Silver family, Toronto social worker Lynne Mitchell, confirmed her friend’s death to The CJN in a WhatsApp message.
“Yes. She was murdered on Oct. 7, ” Mitchell writes. “May her memory be a blessing.”
Silver’s son Chen Zeigen, an Israeli archeologist, travelled to Canada in late October to meet with federal and provincial politicians and with Jewish community members to demand that his mother’s native country do more to work for the release of all the 240 hostages. At the time, the family believed she was among the captives hidden in Gaza.
Sources tell The CJN that Silver’s surviving sister in Winnipeg, Rochelle Gamliel, was informed of the positive identification late Monday. Silver, a widow, is also survived by another son Yonathan Zeigen, a social worker who also lives in Israel, and by four grandchildren. She leaves behind a brother, Neil Silver of Calgary.
According to accounts from her family, Silver heard gunshots and shouting at her Kibbutz Be’eri home on Saturday morning from 6 a.m. to about 11 a.m. Israel time. Her son last heard from her by text as she was hiding in a safe room.
Silver moved to Israel from Canada in the 1970s and raised a family with her late husband Lewis Zeigen. Her life was devoted to working for peace between Israel and the Palestinians: among other causes, she was known for regularly driving patients from Gaza to medical appointments inside Israel. She also made sure Palestinian labourers inside Israel were paid what they were owed.
Her sons have been spending all their time since her disappearance raising awareness, putting up posters, meeting with journalists, and appealing to Israeli leaders to do more to find the hostages.
Israeli officials explained early on why it was taking so long to identify all the victims as well those who were kidnapped, including 30 hostages from Kibbutz Be’eri alone. They pointed out that some of the Hamas victims were hard to identify because of the condition of their remains. Kibbutz Be’eri in particular was devastated: 80 people were killed, their homes were burned down, and children’s bodies were mutilated. It is not known why it took until now to find Vivian Silver’s remains.
Until tonight, the Canadian government had confirmed six people with Canadian citizenship were killed by Hamas, plus one woman with Canadian family ties (Tiferet Lapidot, 23). Two more were presumed hostages. There is still no word on the fate of Judith Weinstein Haggai, 70.