As Israel Weighs Honoring Oct. 7 Victims, Exhibit Memorializes Trance Festival

A backgammon set suspended midgame. Tents and folding picnic chairs dotted among the trees. A psychedelic dance floor with downtempo and chillout trance playing in the background as video screens show images of flushed, ecstatic young people moving to a silent beat.

The items, salvaged from the Oct. 7 “Tribe of Nova” trance festival at Re’im in southern Israel, are part of a new installation in a huge hangar at Tel Aviv’s exhibition grounds that recreates some of the essence of an event that was dedicated to peace and love but was shut down by barrages of rocket fire from Gaza.

In the horror that followed, hundreds of Hamas gunmen surged across the border and surrounded the music festival, ambushing people in their cars along the road and hunting them down as they fled across fields. At least 360 festivalgoers were slain that day, according to the Israeli authorities — nearly a third of the total killed in the Hamas-led assault. Others were taken to Gaza and are still being held hostage there.

The exhibit, which opened to the public for two weeks on Dec. 7, is titled “Nova 6.29” — for the moment, that morning around sunrise, when the music stopped.

“It shows the idea behind the community of Nova and tells the story of 6:29, when light turned to darkness,” said Yoni Feingold, an Israeli entertainment mogul and an initiator of the project. “It is a vast memorial for the nearly 400 who were killed.”

The installation is one of the first physical memorials of the events of Oct. 7. Israelis are only beginning to think about how to commemorate the victims of that Saturday, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history.

Some people are talking about preserving, as a kind of museum, the charred ruins of neighborhoods in border communities that came under attack. Several organizations are gathering testimony from survivors.

The country has not yet held an official day of national mourning, having gone straight to war against Hamas in Gaza.

In one corner of the hall, yellow portable toilet cubicles are lined up, the bottom halves of some of the doors riddled with bullet holes. Nearby, a jumble of incinerated cars.

At the opening of the exhibition, the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, described it as “a hallowed space.”

“The fragments of the party and the torn pieces of life lie here now as a silent testimony, in memory of all the tremendous human beauty that was lost,” he said, adding, “The massacre, and the deep and painful wound it created, are the legacy of an entire generation.”

Proceeds from the exhibit, which is expected to remain in Tel Aviv for a few weeks, will go to help survivors and families of those killed.

“We are looking ahead,” said Raz Malka, 27, a member of the Nova production team who survived the attack. “The terrorists came to degrade and murder people who were there having the time of their lives,” he said, adding: “We will dance again” — the new motto of the Nova team.

The festival’s main stage is now set up in the exhibition hall and etched with the names of the production staff who built it, stayed to dismantle it when the rocket fire began and were killed. A second stage nearby — of the Mushroom Project, which played Goa trance, a style that originated in India — was produced by twin brothers, Osher and Michael Vaknin, 35, from Jerusalem. They, too, were killed.

Tables labeled “Lost and Found” are laden with belongings retrieved from the site: rows of shoes; eyeglasses and sunglasses; bags and pouches; toiletries; car and house keys.

Video of people dancing in their last moments is interspersed with screenshots of WhatsApp exchanges from that day, capturing the fear and terror as people tried to flee and hide. Another rolling screen displays portraits of those who never made it home.

Idit Shachal, who was visiting the exhibit on a recent weekday, said she had “come to see and understand.” Her son, Nadav, 24, had survived the rave after fleeing for eight hours on foot with a friend until they found refuge in a village nearly 10 miles away.

“My heart aches,” Ms. Shachal said, glancing at the burned cars. “The thought that all these things are from there.”