Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Loud and Bitter Cry: From Gush Katif to Itamar – the Fogel family

A Loud and Bitter Cry: From Gush Katif to Itamar – the Fogel family
By Shifra Shomron

Purim holiday spirit is really running high in Israel. Stores are spilling out with costumes and happy customers with eager children are eagerly rummaging among the displays trying to decide whether to dress-up to a witch or a bride, a soldier or Spiderman. Not to be outdone, the eateries are also up to snuff and you can already buy your pre-packaged mishloach manot or choose from varied filling homantashens (chocolate, poppy-seed, strawberry, caramel, etc.).

Yet among all the joy we mustn't forget that there's one family that won't be celebrating Purim with us. Or rather, only three children out of the entire family still live to celebrate with us. And considering what they've just been through, I'm not sure if they really feel like partying – even for Purim.

I'm referring to the Fogel family, of course. They had been a normal, happy family. Maybe even luckier than most. The husband, Ehud Fogel, was a graduate of the Eli religious pre-army program. He became a Rabbi. His wife, Ruth, was a teacher. They lived in Netzarim, in Gush Katif. Following Ariel Sharon's summer 2005 Disengagement Plan they continued on with their community in caravilla housing in Ariel, but eventually left most of their Netzarim friends in Ariel and moved to the community of Itamar. This was a new place for them but necessary for Rav Ehud's work in the Itamar High Yeshiva. They decided to settle there, to buy a house, and look for positive aspects in the place. They found many.

In an audio-visual Hebrew interview published a year ago by Arutz 7, the couple speaks gently and happily. Rav Ehud describes his work with the Yeshiva students and explains how his own background helps him understand them. Ruth, while lifting one of her blonde-haired children on her lap, smiles and tells us that Itamar is such a very warm and welcoming place; very heterogeneous; there is room for everyone and there is plenty of tolerance.

No tolerance was to be found last Friday night (3-13-11). Two Arabs armed with knives broke through the security fence around Itamar. They entered the Fogel home and stabbed Ehud, his wife Ruth, their eleven year old son Yoav, four year old son Elad and three month old daughter Hadas – stabbed them all to a bloody death. But not all the Fogels were home; twelve year old daughter Tamar was out with her friends and returned home to discover these gory, macabre scenes. She rescued two of her siblings who were unharmed in a side room and escaped with them to the neighbors.

Currently all three surviving siblings are with their paternal grandparents, and the Israeli social workers have temporarily broken their strike to make sure that these children are being taken care of.

Tamar Fogel, and her two brothers – eight year old Ro'ey and two and a half year old Yishai – what sort of Purim will they have? How easy it is to merely read about fighting for existence and to cheerfully make noise with gragers compared to how different it is to keep on fighting, day by day, for the right to exist on ones land, and to manage to live life cheerfully whatever one's burden.

May their memories be blessed, may G-d avenge them, and a happy Purim to us all.

Shifra Shomron, is a teenage novelist and former Gush Katif resident, Grains Of Sand The Fall Of Neve Dekalim


abigail said...

Well expressed, Shifra. We will all be thinking about the Fogel family today and about why such a tragedy could have happened in our land.

SJ said...

It seems the Arabs are purposely trying to keep it at the level of crime as opposed to an actual act of war which is more serious.

Leah, Maaleh Adumim said...

excellent article

amen to your closing line

Batya said...

Shifra, thanks so much for posting this on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link to the interview, although it does not seem to be working. Is it just my computer?

Hadassa said...

The link doesn't work on my computer either. Apparently it's a problem with INN. We should email them and inform.

Sara Layah said...

good idea, Hadassa, to email and inform INN -let's hope it's quickly back up and running.

Sara Layah said...

the link is working! It just takes a bit for it to start. Please be patient -

Sara Layah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shifra said...

I'm pleased to report that ALL the links in the article are now working.

It's great to read the comments - thank you!