Family photos left on a refrigerator after Hamas terrorists set it on fire on Saturday's attack on the kibbutz on October 14, 2023 in Be'eri, Israel. (Amir Levy via Getty Images)

‘I Understood My Life Is Going to End’: A Mother Describes 20 Hours in a Safe Room

Sofie Berzon MacKie on what went through her mind while terrorists attacked her kibbutz, and the first thought she had after she was rescued.

Sofie Berzon MacKie is a British Israeli artist, a mother, and the director of Be’eri art gallery. She is a survivor of the Hamas massacre of Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7. Below, the writer Max Raskin asks Sofie about the 20 hours she spent under attack. This interview originally appeared on his Substack.  

Max Raskin: How do you feel right now?

Sofie Berzon MacKie: Relatively okay.

I lost track of time, in a way. I know it’s been 13 days since the 7th of October, and I think, “Wow, it’s already two weeks?” But at the same time… “Only two weeks?”

So it’s a really strange feeling of being disoriented in time. Time stretches and is compacted at the same time. I’m not so shaken anymore. I kind of have a vision of what needs to be done in the near future and that’s all I can hope for at this point in my life, where we lost everything. Besides we have our lives, that’s about it.

MR: If any of these questions are too personal or intrusive, or make you uncomfortable, please just let me know.

SBM: No, no, feel free. Really, ask whatever.

MR: Are you in therapy right now? How is your family dealing with it?

SBM: Well, of course I’m in therapy. I have a psychologist and also a psychiatrist. I need to take a pill every night or I have really bad anxiety attacks. And if I don’t take something to calm down, then I have the worst possible nightmares and I can’t sleep. So, I take a pill every evening. I go to sleep. I have this really deep sleep and I wake up with a very heavy feeling of, “Wow, another day in this surreal life that I now lead.”

But then the day goes by, and I get very busy trying to rebuild whatever I can with whatever I have right now. And the children are also, I think, okay. I have really strong children and they’re very smart and very resourceful. So, I hope—and I dare say, I know—that it might take some time, but the horrific ordeal we went through will be a very bad memory, but it will be just a memory. I don’t think we’re going to be post-traumatic in the long term.

MR: Let’s say someone woke up from a coma today and you were the first person they talked to, and they said to you, “Hey, great to meet you. What’s going on?” What would you say to them?

SBM: In a sentence, I would say that the most brutal, sadistic, inhuman, murderous attack was made on a peaceful civilian population—mostly left-wing, by the way—where 1,400 people were murdered in their homes. . . babies, the elderly, mothers. Another 200 are kidnapped, also children among them, without their parents. And now, in many ways, what we went through is very similar to the Holocaust, but much worse because it happened in our land, in our homes. So, if I had to summarize it, that’s it.

MR: I don’t know how to even broach it, but I think it’s important for people to hear the story of that day. Can you tell my readers what that day was for you?

SBM: So the day before was Sukkot. We were having a nice family dinner and we went to play tennis together, and it was a lot of fun. And we went to bed and woke up at half past six in the morning with ear-deafening explosions that didn’t sound anything like what I know. It didn’t sound like rockets, and there wasn’t the siren that goes off every time it’s a rocket. It was just something else.

So we jumped out of bed, me and my partner, and I woke my daughter up. She’s twelve and a half. And I told her to run. . . just run to the safe room. And I took my daughter, my little one, my toddler—she’s three years old—out of her bed, grabbed her, and ran and shut the window. We have a really thick metal window. And I slammed the door shut and just sat on the bed. My son sleeps there. And a few minutes later, the red color sirens went off and like 100 missiles went over our heads. I can hear them exploding right outside my house.

And then I opened my phone, which I took with me, and there’s this internal group that serves the kibbutz for important messages, and there was a message there that there is an indication of terrorists in Israel, but not in the kibbutz yet.

And then the kids asked me, “Mommy, can they reach our kibbutz?"

And I said, “No, we’re quite far from the border.”

We’re almost five kilometers from the border, and it seemed to me unimaginable that anyone can cross that distance inside Israel’s territory without the army responding and neutralizing them.

So that’s what I said, but five minutes later, another message, “There are terrorists in the kibbutz. Lock the doors. Close the windows, and shut yourself in the safe room and don’t leave.” So I thought it’s not the first time I received that message. It might be like two or three terrorists and they will be taken care of fairly quickly.

The mothers of the kibbutz, we have a WhatsApp group. We use it if anyone needs some sort of medicine or is looking for clothing and just mother stuff. It just exploded with messages, hundreds of them, of terrorists in people’s homes. And because I know the people writing those messages, I drew this map in my head, and I understood that there are hundreds of them all over the kibbutz. That was a very, very terrifying moment.

MR: You were getting messages from the mothers?

SBM: Yeah.

“We have terrorists in our house.”

“They’re shooting at my window.”

“They’re inside my house burning tires, and my house is on fire.”

And these pleas for someone to come and save us. And everyone was like, “Where’s the army? Where’s the army?”

And things escalated for hours on end. Mothers were sending their last words—pleading for someone to save them when you can hear the terrorists in the background—and then they were murdered. The most really horrifying things. I just sat there for hours listening to that group, my friends, and so many of them.

MR: And you knew these people?

SBM: Of course, of course. The kibbutz has 550 families, so of course you know everyone. We share our lives together. It’s a fairly tight-knit community, although people, of course, have their careers and not everyone works on the kibbutz. But we celebrate the holidays together and our children—the kindergartens are on the kibbutz grounds. Everybody’s everybody’s friend, on some level, of course.

So that went on for many, many hours. My children were terrified, absolutely terrified. I told them to stay away from the door, because we realized quite soon that the door is not bulletproof, because they started shooting through the door and injuring people inside the safe room and throwing hand grenades.

MR: Did they see your phone? Did you let them see your phone?

SBM: No. No, of course not. No. No.

MR: How did you talk to your kids?

SBM: We weren’t talking much. I told them, “There are terrorists in the kibbutz. Now you have to be very quiet and cannot talk.”

I was scared that my toddler wouldn’t manage the situation. You hear stories from the Holocaust of people with little children in hiding, and I always thought, “How do you keep a child that small, that young, quiet in this situation?” But the energy was so heavy and we were so quiet.

I told my daughter, “You need to be as quiet as a mouse. We’re not talking now.” And she whispered through the whole day. Even when she fell over, she didn’t cry.

And the kids at some point got so exhausted from the adrenaline and all the stress. And terrorists were shooting for hours at our house, and we could hear them outside our window of the safe room, shouting in Arabic.

MR: How long were you in that safe room?

SBM: Almost 14 hours, and then another 6 with the neighbors in theirs, until the army rescued us. We were in ours from half past six in the morning until after midnight.

We didn’t have any water, any food. . . nothing. So at one point, when it got relatively quiet and I couldn’t hear people shooting at our house anymore, we crept out of the room, because I was scared that if my daughter gets hungry, she’s going to start screaming and we’re doomed. So we took a calculated risk and left the safe room. And we brought a bottle of water and some cereal and dates, just grabbed it and ran back to the safe room.

Later on, I understood that they didn’t manage to break into the safe room, because it is relatively hard. . . if you hold down the handle, it’s kind of hard to open the door. . . but they just burned the houses. That really scared me. But when I understood that they didn’t break into our safe room, I ran to our bathroom. I grabbed all the towels and just opened the tap of the bathtub. I didn’t care how much noise it made. So, I soaked them in water and put them in a basket and ran back to the safe room, and I put them beneath the door and the window in case they tried to set our house on fire.

My kids got very tired at some point, so I told them, “Listen, just try to sleep.” And they fell asleep for, I think, five hours, and they woke up and it was, “Is it over, Mommy,” and I’m like, “Not yet, just please try to sleep.” So they slept most of the day.

MR: How long were the terrorists in the kibbutz?

SBM: They were in the kibbutz even after we were rescued. They were there for days, until the army found the last one of them. Even after all of us were evacuated, the army was still there for days, I think for even a week.

MR: I’m not asking this in a spiritual or philosophical sense, but I guess I’m asking this question—how did you survive?

SBM: A series of the smallest coincidences, really. The most insignificant events decided our fate that day. And it’s really hard to comprehend, because the reality of being dead or alive, it’s this eternal situation. You’re dead, you’re dead. And if you’re alive, you’re here. And, on the other hand, the really meaningless occurrences that decided whoever’s fate.

I would say luck, but it’s not really luck. It’s just the way the dice was rolled that day.

MR: Did they shoot at your house and you just happened to survive?

SBM: Yes. They shot a lot. . . a lot at my house. They came into my house at one point. Some houses, they really didn’t leave for hours, until whoever the family was in the safe room was killed. Some houses, for five hours, they went and came back and went and came back.

MR: Did they try breaking into your safe room?

SBM: Yes. At one point, we heard voices. They didn’t really try. They were just there and they left. I was standing next to the door with a knife, because that’s what I had. But why they left, I don’t know.

MR: Did your safe room lock?

SBM: No. You can’t lock it from the inside, but you can hold the handle down and then it’s almost impossible to open it from the outside. But, of course, they can shoot you through the door. They used hand grenades. And if they were really determined in getting in, nothing could stop them. There were houses that they took apart the hinges of the door.

MR: I don’t even know what to ask. I don’t even know what to ask. I mean, what goes through your head at that time? Do you pray? Do you think about how to solve the situation? Are you thinking about escape? What is actually going through your head?

SBM: First, disbelief that this is happening and thinking that the army will surely arrive. And then the hours went on, and they didn’t. And then at one point, when they were really on my house shooting at the window, trying to. . . I don’t know what they were trying to do to the outside wall. . . I could hear them hammering at it, at the wall, trying to break it. And then I was sure I was going to die, so I actually posted my goodbyes on Facebook, and I sent messages to my friends, family that, “Know I love you, but I’m not going to survive this. This is the day I’m going to die.” And I was very sad, not much because my life is going to end today, but thinking about the brutal way that I’m actually going to be murdered made me really, really sad. And I was so scared.

(courtesy of Sofie Berzon MacKie)

MR: As a woman, were you afraid?

SBM: I wasn’t thinking like they’re going to rape me or anything. I was just, as a mother, I think. . . seeing the terror on my children’s faces once they’re in the safe room—that was a thought that absolutely broke my heart. So when they were really on our house trying to get in, I just sat. I held them and covered their eyes, because I just didn’t want to see the look on their faces when they see the people that are going to murder them. I prayed. I don’t believe in God. Not that I don’t believe that the world is a spiritual place, but I don’t believe in Him in the way any religion explains this force that moves through the universe that creates all things. But I was, in my heart, just begging for some force to let me out of that room. We sat there for so many hours, my heart was pounding in my chest the whole time. At some point, I started really shaking uncontrollably because of the adrenaline rush. Complete terror.

MR: Physically—other than your heart beating—what does that physically feel like to be in that kind of situation?

SBM: I can’t even describe it.

MR: Do you want to throw up? Do you want to go to the bathroom?

SBM: You want to throw up. You want to run away. You have this urge, crazy urge, that you have to oppress, to open the door and run, just run. And you have to really stop yourself from leaving your home because you just want to run. To have to sit there and wait, all your muscles become stiff. Your body becomes stiff. Your heart is beating. I got extremely thirsty at some point. My mouth was so, so dry. My daughter had terrible cramps in her stomach. She had an awful tummy ache, and her head was throbbing. Your body is screaming that this situation is unbearable. But here we are.

MR: I don’t know if this is a silly question, but are there any moments of levity in that whole thing?

SBM: No. At one point, when I understood that I am going to die, I couldn’t stand the fear that took hold of me. It was beyond anything I ever felt in my whole life, the most extreme feeling of panic, and terror, utter terror. So, I kind of took a look at my life, and I became very grateful for what I have, what I had—for my life’s trajectory and the people I met and the people I loved and who loved me back. And that was a really deep moment for me. It was, I don’t know, spiritual in a way, that I understood my life is going to end. It’s a fact.

MR: People say your life flashes before your eyes. Is that what that was like?

SBM: Yes. You think about your childhood, your parents, your friends, things you did right.

MR: And did that make you feel good?

SBM: It made me feel at peace, and I felt all the fear just leaving my body, and I felt really at peace with my fate. I was still very deeply sad about dying this way. I felt like it’s unfair.

MR: How does that make you feel now when you think about it? Can you access that same peace? Most people get cut off in traffic and they’re pissed off, and it ruins their day.

SBM: Something really changed in me. It’s like I met the worst possible situation life could hand out to someone, really the worst. And I found. . . I’ll try to explain.

It’s like something inside me connected with the universe, with the fact that everything has a beginning and everything has an end, and this is my end. And I suddenly felt so peaceful, and I had this warm feeling, and I felt all the fear draining out of my body into this really deep acceptance that I’m going to meet whatever eternity is, after I go.

MR: Had you thought about eternity before? Do you believe in an afterlife?

SBM: I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I am very spiritual. And these ideas, I’m occupied with them and by them for a long time.

MR: Before this happened?

SBM: Yes, that everything is connected in the world. The infinitely large. The stars, when you gaze up, is connected to my body. It is inside me and I am inside everything. So I walk through life with that feeling. But it really was intensified, and the truth of that feeling overcame me and all fear just left me.

MR: What moment was that when that was actually happening?

SBM: That moment was really the peak of it. I just thought, “I can’t stand. . . ”

It’s like you’re mentally fighting for your life. Emotionally, you’re fighting for your life, although, in many ways, you’re just sitting in a room not doing anything. And then I kind of let go. . . “That’s it. It’s out of my hands. Whatever is going to happen, let it happen. You can’t stop it. There’s no need to be afraid. There’s just no need to be afraid. You can’t control the situation. Just let it go.”

MR: And then when did you come back and realize, “I might make it through this?”

SBM: I think it’s around half past four, I heard Hebrew outside my window. I heard only Arabic until that point. . . and gunshots. I heard Hebrew and understood that the army is outside my house. And then I had this thought, quite fleeting, actually, not even like an understanding, but just a glimmer of hope that I might make it through this day alive with my children. I think it was a quarter past six and my neighbor from upstairs called me and said, “Sofie, the army is here. They’re evacuating us. Get ready.” And I could hear them talking to the soldiers and telling them, “There is a family downstairs. You have to go and get them also.” So then, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to get through this. They’re here.”

MR: You hear stories of the terrorists using young kids to falsely coax people out of their houses to kill them. Were you at any point worried that they were playing a game on you and trying to lure you out?

SBM: Of course. All day long, they were banging on doors. They were knocking on the windows. They were dressed as the IDF. But when you hear a group of people speaking, you can recognize the language, and especially the language used by the army—nobody can fake that. But during the day we understood that they were pretending to be the army, but we also knew that the army hadn’t arrived yet, because we were in contact with the official statements.

But at quarter past six, they were banging on our door, “Open up. Open up. It’s the IDF.” And I just ran and collapsed into their arms.

I had 10 soldiers, two of them were officers, standing in my living room. I thought they were the most beautiful people I ever saw in my life. And I told them, “Take my children. Please, just take my children.” I handed my daughter to them. And they said to us, “You have two minutes. Pack the necessities that you will need, and we’re out of here.”

Then they helped us climb over the wall, and we were standing with our neighbors, two families, with 30 soldiers, in the most horrific scene. The sky was. . . it was green and orange and full of smoke. There were so many houses on fire, dead bodies scattered everywhere, puddles of blood, rockets exploding, and bullets started whizzing in front of us, so they understood that we can’t be evacuated yet. And they told us, “Please go upstairs to the safe room of your neighbors, and we will be back very soon.” And eventually, they came back at midnight. So we had another six hours, with no electricity at that point.

MR: Did you feel safe at that point?

SBM: Safer, yes.

MR: Like the military was in charge?

SBM: Yes. I knew that they were fighting them. I knew that families were evacuated at that point, not many, but they’re succeeding in evacuating them. I knew that they knew we were there, and I trusted that they would be back.

Luckily enough, we were at our neighbor’s house, because I think two hours after that I could hear terrorists inside my house—shooting from inside my house at the soldiers who were outside. My life was saved more than once that day.

And at around midnight they came back, and we didn’t answer the door when they came. We were too scared at that point. We didn’t answer the door. So they broke in. They tried to break in through the window. They started pulling the window apart, but then we ran and opened the door, and we were evacuated under fire.

MR: How were you evacuated? In an armored personnel carrier?

SBM: No, by foot. We had to walk. My daughter, my eldest daughter, was terrified. She said, “I’m not walking. They’re going to kill me. I’m staying here.” So one of the soldiers took her by her hand and said, “I am here with you. We’re going to make it.”

So we were three families. Thirty soldiers surrounded us in a ring, with weapons drawn. And we started walking. They told the kids to close their eyes and not open them until they tell them it’s safe, because the horrors—as I just said, there were dead bodies everywhere, butchered dead bodies, fire, blood everywhere, just insane. . . 

MR: I feel like everyone is watching whatever videos they can get their hands on, even the most horrific things. . . people feel like a need to see. Do you watch any of it?

SBM: No. Not only do I not watch it, I’m actively blocking it out. After meeting with my psychologist, he rightfully said that “there is absolutely no use at this point even thinking about what happened. It’s only going to make the trauma linger on. So you just really need to work hard on your mental and psychological defense and block it out for now, until, I don’t know, in a year’s time, two years’ time”—these are his words. “When you’re safe and you have a home and you’re far enough from what’s happened to safely deal with it. But now, you just really have to block the memory out. Because otherwise, it’s going to turn into post-trauma, and it’s going to haunt you your whole life.” So I do as he said, and it’s really helpful advice.

MR: What does it do when someone wants to get your testimony?

SBM: When I say what happened, I remember it. But at this point, it doesn’t feel like I’m there. Something did change with my psychological capabilities, and some time has passed. For a week and a half after everything happened, I felt like what happened is still happening in the world somewhere. My life kind of split into two timelines and in one timeline, me and my family and my children, we were saved, but in another timeline, in another universe, it is still happening, and the end is still unknown, and it can still play out completely differently. And that’s how I felt.

So it was very scary to think about it because I had this feeling that if I don’t pay attention—don’t ask me to what, because I don’t know. It’s like I felt like I have to be on guard, because if I’m not, the end will be different and I will be killed with my children.

And that, when I come to think about it now, I don’t feel like that anymore. I feel like it was a horrible, horrible experience, but it is over. I am more grounded in reality. I don’t feel like I have these flashbacks where I’m still there physically. It’s like sharing a very painful memory, but a memory.

MR: And do you listen to the memories of others? As a photographer, you probably think about this a lot but there’s a kind of prurient interest or pornographic spectacle that people are curious about the rapes and the torture.

SBM: The people that are here, we survived, so none of us have these stories and we don’t know the specifics of what happened to our loved ones. Nobody gave us that information. I saw maybe one or two testimonies of people who were working in the kibbutz and what they saw, but no one was given any details and I’m glad.

MR: But these stories are starting to come out now. Are you avoiding them?

SBM: Yes, of course. I really can’t deal with that. It’s not like before. I used to watch these images. I can understand how things can be horrifying. I don’t have to see them. I remember when ISIS started releasing the beheading videos and they were found on YouTube. I think I watched one, and I was like, “Okay, no, I really can’t handle this. It’s just too much.” I’m definitely avoiding. . . how can I watch my community[’s] children being butchered and tortured? I don’t want to see.

MR: How does this make you think about the Holocaust?

SBM: I think in many ways, what we went through was very similar to the Holocaust. I can understand, maybe, a bit more, a bit better, what it really felt like, although Israel is very good at preserving the memory of the Holocaust. So through my whole life I’ve been reading testimonies, meeting Holocaust survivors, and I had a very good sense. I went to Poland also, to concentration camps when I was in high school, and it felt in many ways very similar.

I daresay it’s even a bit worse. It might actually be a bit worse.

Because it’s in our land, in our country, in our homes. We weren’t like guests in someone else’s country. This is our country. We have a very strong and capable army, and it happened in my home, in my land.

MR: Is your worldview changing minute to minute?

SBM: I think I hold very liberal, humanitarian ideas of the world. I think I was naive about Hamas and the people of Gaza, who, in many ways, I relate to and am an advocate for, in their justifiable call for freedom.

But I couldn’t imagine that any human being, as hateful as they are, could do the things that they did. It’s a really shocking revelation for me to understand that some people, and not some—a lot—because of the two to three thousand terrorists that entered Israel that morning, they were not all Hamas. A lot of them were also just citizens of Gaza who hate us.

The thought that people can be so hateful that they will shoot a baby in its head while she’s in her mother’s arms. . . and these are things I witnessed and heard happening in my kibbutz. Or kidnapping children. I feel so naive. 

You see the world through the lens of who you are.

I saw the world through the lens of who I am, and I always believed that every person, as bad as they may be, there’s a sense of humanity that you can appeal to, that you can talk to. I think I was wrong. I think there is this force that some strain of humans possess, that to call them human is a disgrace. It is a disgrace for humankind to have people who can do those things walk amongst us and share our world. And that is something that has really changed in me—although I still want to believe that in Gaza, there are women like me, mothers like me, children like my children, who wish for peace. And I can’t believe that two million people are like that.

But maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.

The remains of the Be’eri Gallery. (Courtesy of Sofie Berzon MacKie)

MR: What kind of impact does this have on how you think about what your life is going to be? How do you think about your next gallery opening? Before this happened, what projects were you working on?

SBM: Many. I’m co-director of a gallery—Be’eri Gallery—which is now burnt to the ground and nonexistent. We had nine artists in line for 2024. We were already working on their exhibitions with them. Personally, I was working on various projects.

MR: What was one of your personal projects?

SBM: I’m a photographer. I now call myself more of a visual artist, because I don’t only use photography, but I was photographing in my living room for the past three years—a series that was my way of thinking about and discussing my motherhood, my identity, my relationship with my home, with my dreams. That’s one thing. I have, still hanging, an exhibition at the Man and the Living World Museum in Ramat Gan, which is very much about what we just discussed—about the eternity and interconnection of all things. I made a series called Event Horizon where I used photography, manipulated photography with AI, in just a black room, a dark room, and very large pictures of shell-like organisms that are just half-alive, half-dead. . . thoughts about eternity and—I wouldn’t use the word afterlife—but the event horizon of the black hole.

MR: Are you interested in space at all?

SBM: Yeah, I’m very interested in that. I think a lot about time and beginnings.

MR: Are you a sci-fi person? 

SBM: Yes.

MR: What sci-fi do you like?

SBM: Dune, by Frank Herbert. I read it when I was 14, and I—at that point I knew that I read the best book I’m going to read in my lifetime. And I just finished the Silo trilogy, and The Hobbit, of course.

I actually thought about Silo, because it’s about the apocalypse of humanity and how the human race has to stay low in these silos buried in the ground until the world is ready for them to start their new life. That’s really what I’m doing right now.

MR: After everything that’s happened, has this changed your view about the cosmos and the interconnectivity of it or your view about the afterlife?

SBM: No. I think in many ways it’s actually reinforced my thoughts about the nature of things. I really had to face the idea that every life comes to an end and that my life will come to an end right now, and that that’s just how the world, how creation works. Things are destroyed and created from the beginning of time, and now it’s my time to be part of that. And it was really a moment of enlightenment. It’s kind of hard to describe what happens to someone who faces their death and accepts it, really, with your whole being. I feel like nothing scares me anymore. And I think for 10 days I was floating, not connected to time or to this place or to reality, in many ways.

But then I went for a bike ride here near the Dead Sea, and it was at dusk. I looked at the sea. And suddenly, this normal thought, my thoughts, my normal thoughts, just popped into my head—that the sea has been here for millions of years. I held on to that thought that I recognized myself in it, and suddenly, I saw the beauty of this world, and I could again feel how I am connected, how this beauty is part of me, and how I am part of everything.

Also, I understand that powers of destruction have always been part of our universe and it’s just part of everything. I hope that answered your question.

MR: This is the most powerful interview I’ve done.

SBM: Thank you. I've been interviewed a lot in the past two weeks, and this was really healing, in a way.

MR: Really?

SBM: Yes.

MR: Most of my guests describe my interviews as just really weird and uncomfortable.

SBM: No. I don’t feel like you’re weird or uncomfortable. I think we would have a similar interview even if I wasn’t going through this.

MR: What’s your plan right now?

SBM: Now we are going to stay here at the hotel, although it’s not so comfortable for me. Personally, I need a more quiet environment, more breathing space, and less grieving collectively, because every other person I see here has lost at least one person. So there’s a lot of pain and grieving going on, but my children desperately need their friends.

MR: Are their friends there?

SBM: Most of them are here. Some of my daughter’s friends were murdered. Two of her friends are missing. One of her friends is for sure abducted. And she’s twelve and a half, so her social life at this point is more important to her than her immediate family. There’s a psychologist who is working with her group and also with my son’s group, and so I’m here for them now.

MR: Listen, we come to Israel a lot. We’re going to be there soon. My wife’s actually about to give birth in the next few weeks. But when we’re there, I’d love to meet you in person.

SBM: Wow, that’s great. That makes me happy.

MR: It’ll be our first!

SBM: Wow, that even makes me happier. That’s amazing.

I actually thought that maybe we should have another child, although I decided that three is enough, and I have the most horrible pregnancies. But after we escaped from that thing, I was like, “Wow, I think we should just have another child.”

Regarding your question about the Holocaust, I can understand why people had the need to have large families. It’s really a statement of being alive in this world.

Max Raskin is an adjunct professor of law at New York University and a fellow at the school’s Institute for Judicial Administration. You can follow him on X @maxraskin. 

Listen to Honestly for more stories from the survivors of the massacre on October 7, and click here to read our ongoing coverage of the war in Israel. 

And if you appreciate our work to bring you analysis and reporting on this subject, become a subscriber today:

Subscribe now

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines