Delicate pearls peek out from silver and stainless steel chains — bits of brightness and optimism among Moran Stela Yanai’s jewelry designs that reflected cultures around the world.
Creating art to wear has been Yanai’s joy, but not the only one, her brother-in-law Dan Mor said Thursday in a telephone interview. Yanai, a 40-year-old Israeli who disappeared after a desert rave on Saturday, also fiercely protected people and animals.
“Moran is the softest soul,” recalls Dan Mor, whose wife, Lea, is Moran’s sister. “She could almost be annoying with how much she was so kind and sensitive to animals. You couldn’t eat meat next to her because she was so sensitive to animals being harmed — not just pets but farm animals and wild animals.”
Mor has a hard time speaking of Yanai in the past tense. But that’s the least of his family’s unknowns in the wake of her disappearance — and the family’s horror at recognizing her in a video on TikTok that surfaced later. In it, Yanai is sitting on the ground, looking terrified, amid derogatory Arabic text about Jews.
Days earlier, Yanai had posted a video on Instagram on her way to the rave, where she hoped to sell her designs. She posted a second video, recorded by a friend, of her designs displayed on a table at the festival.
“Moran, kind hearted, never caused pain to anyone, not even a fly,” reads the accompanying text. Her work, Mor said, is inspired by cultures around the world, including Chinese and Arab.
“Moran is an artist and she was so excited to exhibit for the first time a big exhibition of her jewelry, her silver,” he said.
Mor, an actor, said his family in Tel Aviv is feeling Moran’s absence deeply and trying to fill the wait by telling the world about her.
“My beautiful dear sister-in-law, auntie to my kids,” he said. “She had a big heart, she has a big heart, and I’m hoping that heart is still pumping.”
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