Mysterious elderly woman rescues music festival-goers with notes amid Hamas attack

'No one leaves life alive. Make the most of what you have,' these words were inscribed on notes distributed by Mona Chen Tov among partygoers at the music festival, but they ultimately carried a chilling meaning

Tia Barak|
The day after the Nova Musical Festival turned into a mass carnage, survivors urgently shared notes they had received from an unknown elderly woman. These notes bore a reassuring message, "No one leaves life alive. Make the most of what you have," and were signed by "The Elder with the Cane and the Note."
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The inspirational words initially meant to bring smiles, tucked away in pockets, and continue dancing, took on an eerie meaning. Survivors were desperate to uncover the identity of this mysterious woman who seemed to have foreseen the tragedy.
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הפתק שהשאירה מונה
הפתק שהשאירה מונה
The note that some revelers received
(Photo: Instagram)
Swiftly, it gained traction on social media, with some claiming this wasn't their first encounter with the mysterious woman. She had handed them a note, only to vanish before they could blink. In one thread, someone alleged that Rachel, a biblical motherly figure known for her benevolence, came to the party to warn revelers about the looming danger.
But it's not Rachel or a hidden saint. This was Mona Chen Tov, a 64-year-old with a free spirit, adorned with tattoos and piercings, twice divorced and mother of four. She's been part of the trans scene since the 80s, residing in a small caravan on a rural patch in Ra'anana. Limited in her mobility due to spinal issues, she works one day a week at a convenience store.
She had handed them a note, only to vanish before they could blink. In one thread, someone alleged that Rachel, a biblical motherly figure known for her benevolence, came to the party to warn revelers about the looming danger
There, on a paper roll behind the cash register, she writes these messages by hand. Cutting them into notes and storing them in a box, most customers at her kiosk often pick one. When a trance party is on the horizon, Chen Tov bundles up the notes and brings them along.
"I always hand out notes at parties, but there was never anything like what happened in the Nova Musical Festival, so they hadn't heard of me. I can't explain why I wrote that message about not leaving life alive this time. I'm an intuitive person. What comes to me is what I write. I also can't explain how it happened that several people received the same message. Usually, I don't repeat the same message twice."
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מונה חן טוב
מונה חן טוב
Mona Chen Tov
(Photo: Avigail Uzi)
"Someone who I gave the note to sent me a message on Facebook, saying, 'It gave me the thought that I need to move and not stay in one place. That's how I survived.'"
What did you reply to him? "I replied, 'I'm glad he was saved by the message.'"
Describe the cursed day. "I came prepared with a stack of notes. I kept them in a box. Every time I ran out, I returned to our spot, pulled out more notes from my bag, neatly arranged them in the box, and went out to distribute them again. The magic of these notes is that anyone can connect with them. Some people immediately resonate with the message; others ask for help to understand it, and it often leads to the deepest conversations. Some even tell me later that it changed something in their lives."
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מונה חן טוב
מונה חן טוב
The notes Mona Chen Tov gives to people
(Photo: Avigail Uzi)
Then came six in the morning. "From the beginning of the party, one of my sons said he felt a lot of dust. We know what it's like when dust rises after hours of dancing at these events, but it started early. In hindsight, we realized it was from the explosion of the fence. Just as we were getting back to the open space to dance, the explosions started, and we saw the rockets. I ducked under a yurt, thinking it would shield me," she says with irony. "A large group of police officers shouted, 'Get out of here right now, go.' We were in a dilemma about whether to pick up our things; maybe the party would continue. My son said, 'I heard shots; let's get out of here.' We left everything behind at that very moment and started moving towards the exit."
What was at the exit? "The exit was chaotic, with people running in all directions and shots coming from every angle. We were unsure whether to make a dash for our car or head to the fields. My son, who served in the IDF's elite Sayeret Matkal, took charge, saying, 'I'll drive.' His high-roofed Jeep made it easier to navigate the rough terrain, and we quickly located it - a stroke of luck in the midst of the thousands of cars. When we left the highway and entered the main road, there was a bottleneck of escapees, gunfire, and utter confusion. We had no idea where to go.
"On the road, we witnessed cars exploding and lifeless bodies strewn about. Police vehicles with dead officers inside were visible. My son kept driving. Ahead of us, there was a massive fire, and a car exploded right before our eyes. We maneuvered the car to the other side. We reached a reinforced bus, hoping to take refuge inside, but it was packed with people. My son ordered, 'Get back in the car. We're getting out of here.' It was a death trap, with people either killed or abducted. My son drove towards the fields, and we noticed a sign pointing to Gaza with the warning 'Extremely Dangerous Area.' We arrived at a greenhouse and decided to hide there. Next to the packing house, there were large blue crates for collecting oranges. I crawled into one, folded up tightly, hardly moving or breathing.
"Every few minutes, we heard voices in Arabic and bursts of gunfire. I have no idea how long we remained there. I went numb. I turned into a stone."
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