I met Yoav Ashriel as soon as I immigrated to Israel, while I was in first grade. At that time, I didn’t really know the person, Yoav, but rather his dances. During the activity breaks, I danced “Hora Medura” and “Hora Nirkoda” and many others… In the 6th grade, I learned “Korim Lanu Lalechet”…
I can’t describe my acquaintance with Yoav the person as that of many years. Personally, I first met him about twenty years ago, when I accompanied with my friend, Marco Ben Shimon, to Bikurei Ha’Itim to film a dance he choreographed for an upcoming hishtalmut (workshop for instructors), so that Yoav and Mira would decide as to whether or not to include it in the hishtalmut, and maybe to work on it and introduce some changes to it. Yoav was sitting inside with Mira next to him and next to them, was the videographer.
All who came gathered outside in exemplary silence! When it was our turn, I went in with Marco and we were filmed. Then we sat at home biting our nails, waiting for the news from Yoav as to whether the dance was good enough and would be included in the hishtalmut.
In 2006, I met Yoav and Mira when they came to the Instructors Course where I was studying. Afterwards, when I began to lead dancing, Yoav‘s dances were, of course, starring in my harkada (dance session), and with the opening of my nostalgia harkada, the session fully blossomed.
About eight years ago, I met Yoav along with his daughter, Rakefet, during Meir Shem Tov‘s nostalgia weekend in Tel Hai. This is where the big turnaround came. I got to know Yoav, the person. We started talking. More accurately, Yoav spoke and I drank everything in. We had instant chemistry.
When we returned from the weekend, I had already invited him to be a guest at the nostalgia sessions in Nordia and, to my delight, Yoav was my guest several times until he decided that to hang up his dancing shoes.
When Yoav moved into an assisted living facility, we kept in close contact. Together with Gilad Tzaidi, we made sure to visit him at every opportunity. We would sit in the café in the assisted living facility and Yoav would sail through the stories and I… was filled with delight.
On one of the visits, I asked him if he thought we could organize a tribute evening at the assisted living facility in appreciation of his work. Yoav was delighted with the idea! We talked to the supervisor and from there until the realization of the event, the road was short. Gilad ran around and contacted the people he knew who were connected to Yoav. I dealt with the subject, the content and the dances.
The afternoon gathering was perfect and we were very happy that the event took place. For me, it was the culminating harkada for the lifetime achievement of Yoav Ashriel, the person, the mentor and the creator.
When Shlomo Maman read the eulogy at the cemetery, we all cried with him. “If there was no coronavirus,” he said, “the cemetery would have been too narrow to accommodate all the people who would have come to pay their last respects to Yoav, the man, the creator and the mentor”.
Yoav touched many people throughout the world!
It was a great loss for us, for the world of folk dance, and for his dear family; especially for his daughter, Rakefet, who had been with him all along.
It is incumbent upon us to commemorate him with love.