Ari Fuld, A Hero
I never knew Ari Fuld. But I do now.
This year I was blessed to go to Israel for the High Holidays. As is the usual practice for college students, I crashed by family. On Sunday, September 16, I was staying by my grandparents in Efrat. My grandfather drew a deep breath while sitting at the kitchen table and said, “There was a piguah,” the Hebrew word for terrorist attack. I realized that the attack was a five-minute walk from where I was standing. My grandfather looked deeply disturbed — more than he should have been.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. “It’s Ari Fuld,” my grandfather said. “I saw him in shul this morning.”
For the rest of the day, tears, anger and frustration were common themes.
On the way to the funeral, I heard a bystander say, “One who is compassionate to the cruel, is cruel to the compassionate,” intimating that the terrorist who murdered Ari should be given no mercy. Another person talked about using torture as a deterrent for terrorism, suggesting this as a punishment for Ari’s murderer. Bitter comments were made about how the terrorist would be released in five years.
Then we arrived at the funeral. The message was entirely different.
Several thousand people crowded into and around the funeral home, the crowd extending as far as the eye could see. The sounds of shuffling feet and hushed whispers became deafening. A large Israeli flag silently waved over the crowd. And then the Nation of Israel began to sing.
We didn’t sing loudly. Rather, it was a hushed whisper with the voices of thousands of people. We sang songs of mourning and unity. Songs like Gam Ki Eileich, Ochilah La’Eil, Ana Hashem and Acheinu. The crowd was filled with all types of Jews: Soldiers, roshei yeshiva, Chiloni’im, Dati’im and Americans; all different but united in pain. Those who knew each other hugged. Those who didn’t stood in solidarity.
When the family gave hespeidim, “gibor” (hero) was the word every person used to describe Ari. They said he was the strongest advocate for the Jewish people, a man who lived his life to the fullest. One of Ari’s brothers, Moshe, said, “Who else could manage upon sustaining a fatal injury, to draw his pistol, jump a fence and shoot his attacker to make sure that his attacker would not hurt anyone else? Only my brother, only my brother.”
Dani, Ari’s brother, related a conversation he had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who asked how it was possible that Ari was able to pursue his attacker after such a wound. The Prime Minister posited, “Perhaps he had enough blood left in him.” “But I disagree,” said Dani. “It was not his blood that propelled him to pursue his attacker — it was his neshamah.”
The overall message of the funeral was not anger — though perhaps it should have been. The message was about Ari, a hero who lived his life to the fullest, an example of something we should all strive towards. It was also about solidarity. The Nation of Israel has stood and always will stand by their brothers and sisters.
Like Rabbi Judah Michel said, “Ari was a true Oheiv Yisrael, a fighter for Am Yisrael, a defender of the honor of our nation. Ari represented the quintessential proud Jew, completely dedicated Moser Nefesh, an idealistic and unapologetic Jew.” In a word, he was a hero.
As we enter Yom Kippur, we should try to remember the words Ari’s father expressed: “I know you will continue fighting in the yeshiva shel ma’alah for Klal Yisroel.”
Video of the funeral: https://www.facebook.com/tovaknecht/videos/10160820540190321/
Photo Caption: Ari Fuld