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Nova Survivors Share Stories at Jewish Federation Event

Two survivors of the Oct. 7 massacre at the Nova music festival — Danielle Sasi and Lion Piv — appeared at the Jewish Federation Los Angeles to share their stories.
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June 19, 2024
Courtesy Jewish Federation Los Angeles

Two survivors of the Oct. 7 massacre at the Nova music festival — Danielle Sasi and Lion Piv — appeared at the Jewish Federation Los Angeles to share their stories. And as Danielle spoke about losing her father that day, there was hardly a dry eye in the Federation conference room.

As Danielle spoke about losing her father that day, there was hardly a dry eye in the Federation conference room.

Danielle, 32, an Israeli American from the San Fernando Valley, attended the Nova music festival with her husband, her father and several cousins. At the time, the family was visiting Israel for a monthlong stay, as they do every year. On Friday night, after Shabbat dinner, the group drove to the festival. Danielle and her husband have an infant son and had planned to bring him, but Danielle’s mother convinced her to let him stay back. 

At Nova, the group spent hours dancing until the sun came up. Danielle’s 65-year-old father, Avi, was a hit among the young crowd of Israeli partygoers. 

Then, the rockets began flying into Israel from Gaza overhead.

The family fled the festival site by car and pulled over to a roadside shelter — bus stop-adjacent concrete boxes known in Israel as “miguniyot.”

That morning, as a group of about 40 people, including Danielle, her husband and her father, huddled inside the shelter, three Bedouins came over and warned them a white truck loaded with Hamas terrorists was up the road and would be coming that way to kill them. The group considered fleeing to nearby Kibbutz Be’eri but ultimately decided to remain. 

As the minutes passed, Avi warned Danielle that once Hamas’ men came inside, they would aim their guns at the center of the room. The safest place for her was the corner. 

Soon, Hamas terrorists came and fired inside. They tossed in a grenade, and Avi threw himself onto it to save the other people. He was killed. Danielle was shot in the leg. 

Hours passed until help arrived. Of the approximately 40 people who’d been sheltering there, only nine came out alive, including Danielle and her husband. 

As they were driven away from the bus stop in a Ram pickup truck, she saw four Hamas terrorists who’d been arrested, seated on the street with their eyes covered and hands tied.

“I felt such anger I wanted to get out of the car and kill them myself,” Danielle said during the June 19 event. 

Lion was working as a bartender at the music festival at the time of Hamas’ attack. On Oct. 7, he lost 14 friends. “Two weeks of funerals” immediately followed, he said. 

The two shared their stories in conversation with Sinai Temple Co-Senior Rabbi Nicole Guzik. The Friday morning event at the Federation drew approximately 100 attendees and was co-organized by Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Holocaust Museum LA, JIMENA and Sinai Temple.

Danielle and Lion met this past February at an Ojai-based retreat for survivors of the Nova festival. Lion, who lives in Israel, has been staying with Danielle’s family in West Hills. They’ve been speaking publicly before audiences at UCLA, BBYO and elsewhere.

“What I think this does is remind us of the humanity of that horror-filled day,” Diego Chojkier, who helped coordinate the event at the Federation, said in an interview. “It moves us from numbers and statistics to a more humanity-centered understanding of what happened.”

Danielle’s connections to the L.A. Jewish community run deep. She attended Kadima Day School before going to de Toledo High School (then known as New Community Jewish High School).

At the Federation event, she wore a yellow ribbon pin — a symbol of solidarity with the hostages still being held by Hamas — on the lapel of her blazer. In an interview, she said speaking in public wasn’t her favorite thing to do — in fact, she experiences flashbacks to that awful day whenever she does—but she realizes she “must do it to spread awareness.” 

And she plans to keep sharing, she said, “until the world knows what happened.”

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