With his mother killed and father abducted on October 7, little Almog is all alone

Or Levy, abducted from Nova rave, lost his wife Einav in Hamas attack, leaving toddler son with family; uncle Michael speaks of brotherly bond, young couple's love cut short and tireless quest to return Or from Gaza

How do you explain to a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler that their father has been kidnapped? This is a question that Michael Levy, the older brother of Or Levy who was kidnapped from the Nova rave, is grappling with.
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Or's wife Einav was murdered, leaving their son, Almog, without parents. As time passes, Almog asks fewer and fewer questions about his parents. Michael expresses his concern, saying, "My biggest fear is that he will forget. We want them to be present, but when we talk about Or, he bursts into tears."
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מיכאל לוי
מיכאל לוי
Michael Levy holds missing poster of brother Or who is held hostage in Gaza
(Photo: Yariv Katz)
Michael shares that they sought guidance from psychologists to understand how to approach the situation. While there is some experience in explaining the absence of a mother, there isn't much guidance on explaining the absence of a father. They tell Almog his father is missing, that they are searching for him, and kind people are assisting them. Michael admits, "I don't know how much he understands this, I don't fully understand it myself."
According to Michael, one day his brother told him that Almog entered the room and saw a picture of Or and Einav. Almog asked who they were, initially responding with "Mom and Michael." However, he corrected himself and said "Dad." They explained to him that they are very similar, but this situation worries Michael. He wonders what will happen when Or returns.
In recent months, Michael has noticed many similarities between Or and Almog. Both have a knack for technology, problem-solving and an interest in switches, lights and fans. Michael shares, "Or even printed a 3D board game for him with small switches and a fan that he can play with. That's the kind of father he is. We waited so long for Or and Einav to have a child, mainly to repay them for buying our daughter drums when she was two years old."

His presence lingers

Or and Michael were raised in Rishon Lezion in central Israel. With an age gap of eight years between them, their strong bond formed through shared hobbies and fervent support for Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
"One of the most vivid memories for me, which I cherish when I feel nostalgic, is one of the games we attended," Michael enthusiastically recounted.
"We were determined to make it to the 2016 Final Four, but tickets were sold out. We were absolutely obsessed with it, and it was a match between Maccabi Rishon and Hapoel Jerusalem. Somehow, we managed to get hold of tickets, and we arrived at the arena brimming with excitement, donning our orange jerseys, only to realize that we had mistakenly purchased tickets for the Jerusalem section."
Michael's daughters also share a deep bond with Or. "We have three daughters, and they adore Uncle Or," Michael revealed. "When our eldest daughter was born, he was in Central America, but he cut his trip short to see her. We woke her up, and he scooped her up in his arms, showering her with affection. It's a cherished moment captured in one of our favorite photographs.
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מיכאל לוי
מיכאל לוי
Bring him home
(Photo: Yariv Katz)
"Lately, one of our daughters has started including Or in her family drawings. She depicts me, my wife Hila, her siblings, our dog Donna and even Or. To them, he is a part of our lives. They have his posters and they speak to them, greeting him and sending him kisses. In their eyes, he is truly present here in the most palpable way."

Or is now both a father and a mother

Einav and Or have shared a close bond since their high school days, being part of the same circle of friends for many years, although not romantically. "My mother would often ask him, 'Why aren't you two dating?' and he'd respond that they felt like siblings. When they finally became a thing, it was no surprise to anyone. Everyone saw it coming except for them," Michael shared.
"From then on, they were inseparable - the kind of couple you'd describe as soulmates. They had been together for nearly ten years. They enjoyed hiking, attending festivals and always kept a tent in their car. After Almog was born, he became their everything. They played the part of quintessential parents to their firstborn - no television, limited sweets."
During the weekend of October 7, Or and Einav entrusted Almog with his grandparents and went to the Nova music festival. Ten minutes after they arrived, rockets started flying.
"My wife Hila and I were watching a TV series that had pre-recorded sirens late into the night. So, when the sirens first sounded, I thought the series had somehow intruded into my dreams. I switched on the TV and was met with an orange screen, lit up by the sirens. I phoned my mother as they also had sirens, and that's when she told me that Or was at the party," Michael said.
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אור ועינב לוי
אור ועינב לוי
A beautiful family torn apart
"She said they were heading home, so I didn't panic. Even when videos of terrorists on motorcycles began circulating, I dismissed it as typical misinformation. Around 8:30, my mother said she was unable to contact Or. Her concern was palpable, and I remember being annoyed with her. I reassured her the lines were likely jammed and they were on their way, urging her not to stress for no reason. Roughly two hours later, my brother rang, asking about Or's situation, and that's when I began to suspect that something might have gone really wrong.
"I had called all the hospitals so many times that they started recognizing my voice. Their immediate response was, 'we don't have anyone matching his description, try again in 15 minutes'. I examined the lists detailing who ended up where from the party, reached out to the event's producers and even arrived at the shelter they were in which is known for its infamous bird painting."
Michael made his way to the painting at the shelter to determine its exact location, and analyzed videos frame by frame to track down any survivors. "One person we contacted recalled them, noting they were embracing, seemed close, and didn't want to cause any worry to the family," the brother remembered.
"We relentlessly pursued every piece of information until on Wednesday, we were notified that Einav had been murdered. Or was still listed as missing eight days after October 7, before they informed us he was abducted."
The committed sibling harbors unwavering hope in Or's return. He traverses the globe and exerts every effort in his quest to bring his brother home. "If I remain idle at home, I find myself on edge. Taking action serves as a form of therapy for me," he confided.
"Or and Einav were a young couple, just 30 years old and beginning to start a family, with aspirations to progress in their careers or buy a home - the usual concerns of a young couple. The rest of the hostages are in a similar situation, they are someone's father, grandfather, sister or daughter. There's much talk about phases and humanitarian negotiations, but it's crucial for me to stress that Or is now both a father and a mother, there's nothing more humanitarian than that. His has to come back, and it needs to happen as soon as possible."
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