Chana Thau says there are no words to describe the experience of losing a friend after learning Vivian Silver was confirmed dead in Israel on Monday.
“We always held out the hope that she was there, and her son in one of the interviews said she was probably reasoning and mediating, because that was her way. But she never got that far,” she said through tears and a cracking voice.
Silver, 74, was born in Winnipeg but spent decades in Israel advocating for peace.
She was strongly opposed to violence and helped launch multiple aid organizations, like the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development to empower Bedouin women and Women Wage Peace. She also leaves a legacy of promoting a shared society between Israelis and Palestinians.
She would also often drive Palestinian children to hospitals in Israel to get life-saving care.
“She influenced so many people all over the world,” Thau said. “She really put her money where her mouth was. She was passionate about working for peace and felt that it could be achieved.”
Silver’s son, Yonatan Ziegen, told Global News in October that he was in contact with his mother on Oct. 7 during the Hamas attack. The last message he received was, “I love you. They’re inside the house.”
Initially believed to be a hostage, sources have now told Global News her remains have been identified, and she is believed to have been killed in that initial attack.
Jeff Lieberman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, knew Silver’s family and says her death is devastating for the local Jewish community.
“She lived a life that everyone can respect. She was such a good person, doing — really — what she thought was important to make things better for people that aren’t as fortunate. She lived a great life that way, and she’s a beautiful person, and she has the love of all of us,” he said.
Thau said Silver “was just amazing.”
Thau hopes the world will remember her friend as she does: “A very passionate, forceful, effective individual who really accomplished an awful lot in her capacity as a peace activist.”
She took after her mother, Thau said.
“She was a very comfortable presence. She was also very smart, and caring. She cared very much about her family and friends, and politics,” Thau said. “She was just very, very aware.”
Silver’s family will be gathering in Israel for her funeral on Thursday, Thau said. In Winnipeg, Lieberman says the community will hold a memorial in the coming weeks.
“I know that there’s many people out there that will want to be a part of that, and recognize Vivian for the person that she was, and the horrible death that she had to suffer,” Lieberman said.
— with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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