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IN MEMORIAM

Vivian Silver

1949

2023

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Date And Place Of Death

Date And Place Of Death

October 7, 2023 - Kibbutz Be'eri

Security Unit

War / Battle

Resting Place

Kibbutz Be'eri

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Residence In Israel

Kibbutz Be'eri

Aliyah Date

1974

Life Story

Vivian Silver was a Canadian-Israeli peace activist and women's rights activist. She was born February 2, 1949, and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Vivian first visited Israel in 1968, during her junior year of college. She studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she studied psychology and English literature. Silver was also heavily involved in the North American Jewish Students Network, where she was the administrator of the Jewish Student Press Service. In this capacity, Silver began publishing articles about Israeli-Palestinian relations. In her senior year of college, Silver co-founded the Student Zionist Alliance on her campus and was subsequently invited to the Student Zionist Alliance national conference in Montreal that year. In 1973, Vivian co-organized (with Shira Bronznik) the first National Conference of Jewish Women. She immigrated to Israel in 1974 and became a member of kibbutz Gezer. At Gezer, she became the kibbutz's secretary, one of the few women to do so; later, she became chairperson of the community. Vivian's early activism focused on women's rights and gender disparities in Israeli society. To this end, she founded the United Kibbutz Movement's Department to Advance Gender Equality in 1981. She also worked within the Knesset on the sub-committee for the Advancement of Women in Work and the Economy, for the New Israel Fund, and on the Steering Committee of Shatil. She moved to Be'eri, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, in 1990, along with her husband and two sons. During this time, she became better acquainted with the local Bedouin community and Gazans. She served as executive director for the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development) beginning in 1998. Vivian worked within the kibbutz to organize programs to help Gazans, such as job trainings, and ensured that Gazan construction workers at the kibbutz were paid fairly. In 1999, Silver and Amal Elsana Alh'jooj co-founded the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation. She served as the center's director prior to the second intifada. The center organized projects in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. In 2010, Silver and Alh'jooj received the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East, an annual prize given by the Institute of International Education to pairs of Arab and Israeli activists working towards peace. Before the closure of the Gaza border in 2007, Silver worked with Gazan residents in cross-cultural projects. One group she founded, Creating Peace, focused on fostering business connections between Palestinian and Israeli artisans. Vivian was a former board member of B'Tselem, a Jerusalem-based human rights organization. She was also involved with Alliance for Middle East Peace, as well as a number of their member organizations. As part of this work, she helped organize and lead tours of the Israeli side of the Israeli–Gaza border, as a way to raise awareness about the struggles of Gaza residents. Vivian officially retired in 2014. Following her retirement, and the 2014 Gaza War, she co-founded Women Wage Peace, an interfaith grassroots organization. She also began volunteering with Road to Recovery and Project Rozana to transport Gazan patients who were traveling to Jerusalem for medical treatment. On October 4, 2023, Silver helped to organize a peace rally in Jerusalem, which attracted 1,500 Israeli and Palestinian women. Then, on October 7, she was believed to have been abducted from her home by Hamas terrorists. Her remains, which had been found in Be'eri, were identified five weeks after the attack, and she was confirmed dead on November 13, 2023. Her funeral was held at Kibbutz Gezer, and then her remains were buried at Kibbutz Be'eri in a private service. She is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.
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