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Yarden Kotler and David Duani Kotler Share Their October 7th Story

On Tuesday evening, more than 100 people gathered in the Dayan Beit Knesset to hear the terrifying and painful story of Yarden Kotler and David Duani Kotler and their four young children.

On October 7th, the Kotler family was in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza when terrorists infiltrated their kibbutz. They spent 20 hours in their safe room with limited food and water before they were rescued.

When they emerged, they discovered that all of their extended family had survived, however close friends had been killed, students and staff from David’s school — Nofei Basor High School, where he served as principal — had been killed, and several close friends and their children had been taken hostage. As principal, David spent the first three months after October 7th attending all of the funerals and developing an emergency educational program for all of his students.

David and Yarden showed slides of their kibbutz that had been destroyed, images of their children’s friends at a happier time in school — noting that many of the children’s parents had been murdered or taken hostage, and described the lingering horror of October 7th.

As the evening concluded, Lester Lawrence, a Schechter grandparent and parent of alumni, stood to express his gratitude to Yarden and David for their willingness to relive the horror of their experience so that we could all bear witness to the atrocities of October 7th.

Rachel Field, a Schechter parent of alumni, was one of many who reached out the next day to thank Schechter for hosting the event. “Matt and I walked away with eyes open wider than before. We were moved beyond words. We are so grateful for Yarden and David’s courage and openness. The raw emotion was powerful. Even though it has been several years since our daughters walked these halls, we are so proud to be part of the Schechter community.”

Our deepest thanks to Schechter parent of alumni, Terri Cohen, for reaching out to us to provide a forum for Yarden and David to share their story. Terri and her husband Darien, recently traveled to Israel on a volunteer mission with several other Schechter parents of alumni. While there, they toured Kfar Aza with a woman named Chen, who told them about her sister Yarden and her family. Chen noted that Yarden and David planned to travel to America for a brief respite.

Terri and Darien, along with Schechter parents Debby and Dale Strauss, contacted Yarden and David and offered to host them while in Chicago. When the Kotlers asked if Terri could help them share their story and experiences so that others could understand the horror and lingering impact of October 7th, Terri contacted Schechter Director of Advancement Tami Warshawsky, who worked quickly with Shira Rozgovich, Development and Events Manager, to organize the event.

Photo from left to right includes: Dale and Debbie Strauss, Yarden and David Kotler, Terri Cohen, Tami Warshawsky, and Jody and David Schmidt

“There was no question that we had to bring the Kotler’s story to our community,” Tami said. “Schechter is more than just a school—we are a community for life, and we are dedicated to offering programs that reflect our mission and core values. Israel is one of our core values and a place that many of us call home. We are grateful to those who attended and made donations to help Schechter provide more free events to the community.”

“I have been fortunate to spend the last several days with Yarden, David, and their four children,” Terri said when introducing them. “They are unbelievably strong — each with a beautiful neshama (soul). I am inspired by their story and hope you are too.”

Read more about David Duani Kotler and Yarden Kotler

Until October 7th, David Duani Kotler was the principal of the Nofei Basor High School in the Eshkol Regional Council, which was attended by children from Be’eir, Nir Oz, Keren Shalom, Nir Ytchak, and 24 other communities. The high school was a special palace with unique educational programs and a tight knit educational community.

David, who originally trained as a history teacher, was also the principal of the Nof Yam B Elementary School in Ashkelon and the Sha’ar Arayot Elementary School in Holon, as well as the Educational Coordinator for Shema, an organization that works with hard-of-hearing children. He is an educational leader with many years of experience in both formal and informal education and holds a BA in Informal Education and American History, and an MA in Management and Educational Leadership from Bar Ilan University.

Yarden Kotler is an Israeli lawyer specializing in human rights. Her work includes serving as a guardian for minors at risk and representing women of all ages who have been sexually assaulted. In recent years, Yardem has been involved with the establishment of volunteer centers for rights maximization in a number of towns and a variety of communities, and has worked with fellow residents from the Gaza Border communities for recognition of their rights as PTSD sufferers. Yarden also lectures at Sapir College. She holds a BA from the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan and an MA in Public Law from Tel Aviv University. Yarden’s family was among the founders of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and she was born and raised there.

After attending all of the funerals and ensuring that all of his students had found alternative educational frameworks, David resigned from his role in order to devote more time to take care of his family with Yarden.

If you are interested in learning about how to provide support to the family, please contact

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