‘Survival instinct’: Former Montrealer back in Canada after fleeing Israel-Hamas war

"A survival instinct and that’s why we came to Montreal," says Melanie Takefman, a former Montreal who has been living in Israel for the past 20 years. When the war broke out, she and her family evacuated to Montreal. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

By Alyssia Rubertucci

Montreal is the place Melanie Takefman and her children are now looking to seek normalcy in, after fleeing Israel days after the war broke out.

“I just had this gut feeling, here’s an opportunity, my mom’s leaving, I don’t want my kids to have to have to go through, living with sirens all the time,” she said.

Takefman is a former Montrealer and has been living in Israel for the last 20 years.

(Credit: Melanie Takefman)
(Credit: Melanie Takefman)

Her mother frim Montreal was visiting them during the Jewish holidays, and when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, they say they had to find a way out.

“I’ve been in Israel during wars before and this is is kind of unprecedented and incited in me kind of a survival instinct and that’s why we came to Montreal because I had the opportunity to leave with my children and just to prevent them from experiencing this unknown,” Takefman said.

It wasn’t easy to get to Montreal from Modi’in, Israel.

“They just were always limiting the amount of flights, there were attacks on the airport all the time, sirens,” she said, adding that her mother was scheduled to leave on the 15th and wanted to get home sooner.

That’s when Takefman decided to join her mother, along with her three children aged 14, 11 and four.

As Canada began evacuating citizens, the family was able to embark on their journey to Montreal on Oct. 15.

(Credit: Melanie Takefman)

“The Canadian government brought Royal Canadian Air Force planes and took Canadians out to Athens.”

(Credit: Melanie Takefman)

Takefman’s Israeli husband decided to stay behind in Israel, to volunteer and help where needed.

“My husband was born and grew up in Israel, and it’s just a different feeling,” she said. “He didn’t really feel like he needed to be evacuated because this is his home.

(Credit: Melanie Takefman)

“I also feel that Israel is my home. But I also feel like Canada’s my home. And for me, sort of that instinct of getting my kids out of the war zone was stronger.”

Takefman describes not feeling worried about her husband’s safety, as their home is equipped with a safe room. She says the mental health of everyone in Israel is more troubling. “Israel right now is a horrible trauma, it’s impossible to describe.”

She says it’s important for her to shield her children from what’s going on.

“It’s really hard, Israel is a very small country and everyone knows people who have been killed, who are kidnapped.”

Now, Takefman says Montreal will be home for at least the next few weeks as she and her family figure out what to do next.

“When the rockets have subsided on both sides and my kids can go back to school fully and really go back to their regular routines, we’ll go back,” she said. “I hope that’s much sooner than later, but we don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows.”

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