An Open Letter to the Fogel Children
Dear Tamar, Roi and Yishai,
We have never met but I write to you with tears in my eyes, and a sad and heavy heart that is shared by our people, Am Yisroel. Like your parents, I too long to settle in the land of our ancestors to which we as a nation have returned. Like your father, Udi, Zecher Tzadik Lvracha, I am 36. My wife Toby is just short of 35 like your mother Ruth, Zecher Tzadeket Lvrocha. We have six children, which your precious family numbered just a few days ago, before your parents and siblings, Yoav, Elad and Hadas, were so cruelly and monstrously stolen from this world.
I recently attended a dinner for one of the largest Jewish Day Schools in the United States at which there was a moment of silence for your family. Families attended from all over Florida and were united in their tears and painful grieving. There was no distance being measured that evening between American Jews who have never met your family and those of you holy ones who dwell in Itamar, Israel. Tears and moaning, however, are not enough for you and not enough for this world which must always be repaired.
There is hope in this unspeakable tragedy of Jews being killed once again for being Jewish. I was taught, by the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, that we must outweigh every evil act with goodness. We must strengthen the Jewish people with every assault against us. He always reminded us of the great Jewish idea that a little bit of light dispels much darkness. I know there is nothing we can do to console you but here in the Diaspora people are calling, emailing and texting each other about doing something, just something to ensure that barbaric acts such as this one, never happen again. And so I will start with just one small act of good that will perhaps inspire others to do the same. The members of Eliezer, the Jewish Society at Yale, will start an annual lecture on campus in memory of your parents and siblings. It will be titled “The Fogel Family Annual Lecture on Israeli Security and Sovereignty.” As we have done for 14 years, we will on an annual basis bring a leader of the Israeli Political and religious leadership to Yale to speak about the importance of Israel never compromising holy Jewish land for so called ‘peace’ with an enemy that seeks our annihilation .
I humbly invite my colleagues, leaders of Jewish Communities around the globe, to join me this week in committing and publicizing some enduring community act in the name of your family. I hope that the light of their memory will shine eternally on our people and guide our path to safety through every peril. We will remind the world that the Jews of Itamar are well armed and yet not a shot of retaliation has been fired. The Jewish way is to love children, protecting even those of our enemies, and to fill the world with acts of goodness and kindness. We at Yale will, in our very small way, eternalize the memory of your loving family.
With a terribly broken heart, yet steadfast and strong conviction I say to you my beloved Tamar, Roi and Yishai; and to all of Am Yisroel who mourn this week,
Hamakom Yanachem Eschem bsoch Shar Avelei Zion Veyerushalaim
May the Creator console us among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Shmully Hecht is Rabbinical Advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish Society at Yale University.