MyHeritage News In Memoriam: Ron Shemer and Ilay Nachman By Erica October 16, 2023 Share Share Copy Link Our hearts are broken. We are overcome with grief at the tragic deaths of Ron Shemer and Ilay Nachman, two members of the MyHeritage employee family. Ron and Ilay were murdered in the early morning of October 7, 2023 while separately attending the Nova music festival, at the onset of the Hamas attack on Israel. Ron was 23 years old, and Ilay was almost 24. Ron (left) and Ilay (right), at a staff training day to prepare to work at a Jewish summer camp in the U.S. Ron and Ilay were valued employees of MyHeritage’s COVID-19 lab in Israel. These two young men stepped up to join MyHeritage’s biggest humanitarian endeavor to date, and were at the forefront of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. Ron and Ilay were loved and respected by all who knew them, and to honor their memory, we are offering the MyHeritage community a window into the lives of two exceptional men who will forever remain young. To understand the context of their deaths, here are two articles from CNN that describe the attack at the Nova music festival, in which at least 260 civilians were murdered: Nova Music Festival: How a rave turned into a frenzied massacre and Dashcam shows Hamas gunman shooting freely during music festival. Trigger warning: the links contain graphic footage. Remembering Ron Shemer Ron was one of the first employees at the MyHeritage Lab, and much more: for the two years he worked there, he was its heart and soul. Ask anyone who knew him what they loved most about Ron, and they’ll tell you it was his positive energy. He had a magnetic personality and radiated optimism. Among the many memories our team has shared, many recall that there was not even one time when he was upset or angry. Ron had a zest for life and was happy spreading joy to others. Ron (left) at a birthday celebration at the MyHeritage Lab Ron was affectionately known as “Jachnun” by his colleagues, thanks to his love of the traditional Yemenite dish by the same name. He’d visit his grandmother on weekends, eat her famous jachnun, and bring extras to his next shift for his friends at the lab. Ron (left) and Or Sasson (right), pretending to open a jachnun bar at the MyHeritage Lab. Ron and Or were best friends since childhood and joined the lab together Ron’s easygoing nature was a ray of light during the darkest days of the pandemic, boosting the morale of the team, shift after shift, as they worked their way through tens of thousands of test samples. Ron was a true leader: kind, empathetic, and always willing to go the extra mile. He made time for everyone, listened with intent, and celebrated their achievements. As Ron’s mother Sigal says, “His friends were his entire world.” MyHeritage Lab employees on a team day out. Ron is third from the right (click to zoom) Ron and his fellow team members Ron attended the music festival with friends from home and friends he met while traveling the world after the army. He lived in Lod, in central Israel, and planned to study biotechnology in university. Ron is survived by his parents, Sigal and Oren, his younger brother, Bari, and his girlfriend, Yuval. Ron (right) with his parents and brother Remembering Ilay Nachman Ilay is remembered as kindhearted, charming, and empathetic. You could talk to him about anything and he’d listen intently, completely invested in every word. Ilay’s perspective on life seemed far beyond his young age; he knew how to let the little things go and focus on what’s important. Our team remembers his warm smile and his sense of humor. While he only worked at the lab for a few months, it was clear from day one that he was someone you could always count on. Ilay loved to surf and was looking forward to starting university, where he planned to study business and entrepreneurship. He was a few weeks away from celebrating his 24th birthday. Instead, he was buried on October 12. Ilay (right), surfing with a friend Ilay Nachman was the eldest son, grandson, and great-grandson, and beloved older brother to Ravid. Visitors who have come to pay their respects describe his wide smile and a presence that was impossible to miss. His mother, Yifat, shares: “Ilay had the ability to connect with people instantly, and was adored by his friends. He loved working at MyHeritage. The atmosphere was great and the work was meaningful. Making an impact was very important to him. He was a hard worker who was willing to give his all, not just for the professional gains, but for the contribution he could make to society. He left the lab so he could travel the world before starting school.” To Goni Erhard, his first cousin, Ilay was like a big brother. Their family is shattered over his death: “I saw my grandfather cry for the first time. His first grandchild, his pride and joy, was murdered.” Instead of looking forward to what the future holds together, Arbel, Ilay’s girlfriend of 6.5 years and his high school sweetheart, must now face it without him. Ilay (right) and his cousin Goni (left) Ilay and his girlfriend, Arbel Ilay attended the Nova festival with a group of friends. When the attack began, he took cover with several others. Understanding they were cornered, Ilay tried to stop the terrorists with his bare hands. It comes as no surprise to those who knew him that Ilay’s final act was one of heroism. In doing so, he saved the lives of 3 women. Ron and Ilay were two young men full of hopes and dreams whose lives were brutally cut short. Our team is still processing the shock of their deaths. They were remarkable people, the salt of the earth, who made a positive impact on everyone they met. It was a privilege to know them. Ron and Ilay were two among the many beautiful souls whose lights were extinguished on October 7. Their loved ones have paid a terrible price. We have all paid a terrible price. Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families. May Ron, Ilay, and all the victims’ memories be a blessing. Update from the MyHeritage team Our employees in Israel have been inundated with messages of love, prayers, and concern from MyHeritage friends and users around the world who have checked in to ensure that we and our families in Israel are safe. Our employees and their families are currently safe and accounted for, and we are doing our utmost to provide all with the emotional, physical, and material support needed during these terrible times. While we are heartbroken and traumatized, even amid our grief and the need to care for our own families, our colleagues have found countless ways to volunteer and do good for the country. This is the true spirit of MyHeritage. We are deeply grateful for your prayers, good wishes, and sympathy.