The premiere documentary “Black Forest” is the incredulous, inspiring and horrifying story of Kay Wilson’s survival of an attack during a hike in an Israeli forest that left the audience dazed at Beth Jacob Atlanta Jan. 31.
The film in Hebrew with English subtitles is 50 chilling minutes chronicling the brutal attack of two women. One hiker did not survive. Wilson survived 13 machete blows, recovered at Hadassah Medical Center and helped lead police to the DNA and capture of the Palestinian terrorists.
A young Israeli mother, Neta Sorek, had recently been murdered by the same criminals, and at that point, the case remained unsolved.
At the film premiere, Wilson detailed the moments of fear during the ordeal in which she survived by “pretending to be dead – keeping her eyes wide open and not blinking.” She recalled her hiking companion Kristine Luken whimpering “Praise Jesus,” while she recited the Shema and the Palestinians yelled “Allah Akbar.”
One of the most chilling segments of the film was the police taking the “matter of fact confession” from the killers while they toured the crime scene. They could have been talking about oatmeal for breakfast when they said flatly, “We did it to kill Jews.”
Later in the courtroom, Wilson had to sit a few meters from them during the trial. They got 60-year sentences.
“Terrorism doesn’t make me cry. I get emotional around kindness and hugs, find beauty in my vengeance. As I was bleeding, my mind was constructing chords for ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” said Wilson, who is a talented pianist, cartoonist and writer.
Wilson shared what she learned from the experience:
• I will not live in hatred (of Arabs) or fear. There is a Muslim friend staying in my kitchen right now. A Muslim Arab surgeon saved my life in Hadassah Hospital. I’m involved in an educational program to educate Palestinian children to choose life over death.
• The previous U.S. presidential administration funded terrorism by sending money to Palestinians, supposedly for food and medical supplies, but it can be diverted to fund murder. President Trump stopped this. I have met with other governments (rejected by Great Britain) and spoken at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
• I have experienced loss. PTSD, survivor’s guilt, the death of my dog, loss of friends. Sometimes I’m the elephant in the room. I see duality in life. We must have shadow to see light.
• “It took five years to complete my memoir,” which was positively reviewed, “but rejected by major publishers because it wasn’t ‘balanced enough’ to show sympathy for the Palestinians. The mandate here is to stop funding savages!”
• Remember the words about the Bialystok, Kishinev pogroms, “The sun shone, the wheat grew, and we were slaughtered.”
The story behind how the event came together provides the backdrop for Wilson’s film and discussion immediately following.
Of British descent, Wilson has been an Israeli citizen for 33 years. She is a professional tour guide who has taken Christians around Poland to experience Holocaust history. Between tourists and social media, she has a plethora of friends and followers and has built a platform through her story and positive recovery.
Atlanta volunteer Cheryl Dorchinsky discovered Wilson’s story via a Ted Talk and set about finding a way to host her. Dorchinsky landed a cooperative partner in Rabbi Yitzchok Tendler, Beth Jacob executive director, who helped her frame the event and name her burgeoning organization, Atlanta Israel Connection.
Dorchinsky said, “I want to get Atlantans out of our silos. We can all connect around pro-Israel sentiment.” Enter software mogul Jen Lazarus, the Diamond event sponsor and CEO of ZenTwelveTen. Lazarus also served as the moderator for the one-on-one with Wilson.
“We must thank Cheryl Dorchinsky,” Lazarus said. “She really had the driving passion to get Kay here.”
Several visitors from Florida, who met Wilson in Israel, flew in for the event. In honor of Wilson’s sense of humor and mission of spreading of joy, some dressed in costume.
Planning Committee member and volunteer Lee Tanenbaum said of Wilson’s experience, “This is a moral issue, not a political one. Kay is amazing. She didn’t let hate take over her life. She has Muslim friends and charities and continues to move forward.”
Beth Jacob Rabbi Ilan Feldman said, “Kay’s miracle mirrors Judaism, … the fact that we are all still here, … Judaism itself is a series of miracles.”