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Early that October morning, Shaylee said she and her husband, director of The Boy, silently agreed that she would take their daughter, Shaya, and run as Yahav fought off a Hamas terrorist who was trying to get into their safe room.
Shaylee recalled running down the roads of Kibbutz Kfar Aza with her daughter in her arms as shots exploded nearby. She took cover behind some bushes before making her way into a garden shed to hide, grabbing a hammer to use as a weapon.
“When I was with Shaya in the garden shed, I told myself, ‘Shaylee, think about Holocaust films. What would a mother and a baby do?’ Because this is how it felt,” she said. “I felt like they are actually running after me and Shaya, like she is prey. … No regular situation in my regular reality could be even close to what we [were going] through.”
Shaylee said they eventually found refuge in a neighbor’s safe room and were rescued more than a day later. Her daughter, who was lethargic and severely dehydrated at the time, has since recovered. But Shaylee later learned that Yahav was killed in the attack.
Israeli sales and distribution company Go2Films previously shared in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, “It is with immense sorrow that Go2Films shares the devastating news that our beloved filmmaker, Yahav Winner, was found dead in Kfar Aza yesterday evening, after three days in which he was considered missing. The loss of Yahav has left an indelible void in our hearts, and we extend our deepest condolences to Shaylee Atary, his wife, his family, friends and all who were touched by his artistry and spirit.”
As the USC Shoah Foundation continues its initiatives to speak with survivors of the Israel-Hamas war and Holocaust survivors and witnesses, Spielberg said, “Both initiatives … seek to fulfill our promise to survivors: that their stories would be recorded and shared in the effort to preserve history and to work toward a world without antisemitism or hate of any kind. We must remain united and steadfast in these efforts.”
The Oscar-winning filmmaker added, “I never imagined I would see such unspeakable barbarity against Jews in my lifetime.”