Jewish Film Festival honors the victims of Hamas’ October 7 attacks in Israel

After three decades, the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma and Howard Laderberg, continues to evolve, bringing films that interest and excite, as well as meet the moment during times of turmoil.

For the 31st annual festival, the Festival’s screening committee felt it necessary to highlight the Jewish community’s pain following the tragic events of October 7, when Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,200 people in southern Israel.

The Festival begins with an event highlighting four Israeli short films.

One of the shorts, The Boy (2023), was written and directed by filmmaker Yahav Winner, whom Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza murdered after he attempted to stall them to allow Shaylee Atary, his wife, also a filmmaker, to escape with their newborn daughter Shaya. Mother and daughter survived after hiding for over 24 hours.

The Israeli film sales and distribution company Go2Films, who represented Winner, says, “In the wake of this tragedy, we find solace in the thought of celebrating Yahav’s life and work. Yahav’s short film, The Boy, unfolds a narrative that sheds light on life in Kfar Aza, the kibbutz of his upbringing, and numerous other Israeli villages along the border with Gaza. These communities have borne the heavy weight of losses during the ongoing attacks… To honor his memory and bravery, we are committed to screening The Boy in as many places abroad as possible.”

The Festival’s screening committee decided unanimously to show the film. “With the death of Yahav Winner, the need to showcase films that portray contemporary Israeli life became even more relevant,” says Beth Scharlop, chair of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film. “We wanted to honor his memory and all who have been lost and to recognize the impact of war on daily life.”

The Boy will be paired with three other short films selected by Go2Films following Winner’s death. According to Go2Films, each film is “born from the depths of Israeli reality, provid[ing] an unfiltered glimpse into the diverse narratives unfolding amidst the current conflict.” They include Sirens, Asa Turns 13, and Dear God.

The films will be screened at the Simon Family JCC on the Sandler Family Campus. There is no cost to attend, but donations are suggested to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Israel Emergency Fund.

For more information about the festival and to get tickets, visit or contact Hunter Thomas, UJFT Director of Arts + Ideas, at

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film is presented by the Alma & Howard Laderberg Restricted Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and funded in part by the citizens of Virginia Beach through a grant from the City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission.