These were the emotional words of Hillel Fuld as he eulogized his older brother Ari Fuld, as family, friends and the Jewish world marked one year since his murder
on September 16, 2018.
That day, Ari was doing grocery shopping for his family in Gush Etzion. With his back turned for just a moment, a 17-year-old Palestinian stabbed him. Fuld was mortally wounded.
Despite his injury, in which a main artery was severed, the 45-year-old chased down his attacker and shot him before anyone else was hurt.
Ari was a well-known and beloved pro-Israel activist, rabbi, teacher, karate instructor, husband and father of four who resided in Efrat.
Following his death, he was nicknamed “The Lion of Zion.”
Since his death last year, there have been at least 13 terrorist attacks in the West Bank. Of those, five were stabbings, while the others included car ramming and shooting attacks.
In a heart-wrenching Facebook post, Hillel recalled that fateful day and the ripples it has had over the course of the year since his brother’s death.
“One year ago, everything changed forever,” he wrote. “It was a Sunday morning like any Sunday morning. I was at [work] doing my thing. I had a few tabs open on my browser, like I always do. One of them was Israeli news.”
Hillel opened that tab to check what was happening in the country.
“And there it was. ‘Another day, another freaking terrorist attack.’ Those were my thoughts,” Hillel wrote.
At the time, he didn’t know it was Ari, but he still viewed this attack as “different.”
“I had no idea about that and was only going to find out later,” Hillel explained. “This one was different because it was recorded. On video. By surveillance cameras. That means that on that website, there was a big ‘play’ button: The video. What does one do? They click play – and so I did,” he said.
“What the heck was I watching? A Palestinian kid stabbing a grown man, a fairly large man, and then the man turns around and chases the terrorist down after he was already stabbed? Wait, what? He just jumped over a wall? He shot him. Who was this guy and what was running through his veins because it sure wasn’t the same stuff I had in my veins. ‘What a hero’, I thought to myself!” Hillel wrote.
He checked in with his family to make sure everyone was alright – and at the time, it seemed all was fine.
“Now here is where things get blurry,” he continued. “Doni, my older brother – the one who is one year older than Ari in the lineup – Doni called me. As I remember it, he said two words to me. ‘It’s Ari.’ I had no idea what he was saying. What was he talking about? What was Ari?” Hillel asked at the time.
As he made his way to the hospital, Hillel recalled how he called his brother Doni for an update. “Don’t rush” was his brother’s response.
“It was over,” he wrote. “That moment was the end and the beginning of the hell that was the year that followed.”
He remembered the shock and disbelief that rippled through the hospital room in which the Fuld family stood as they reeled from the news of Ari’s death.
“It can’t be.” My mom kept repeating those words,” Hillel said, adding that “She was right. It couldn’t be. Ari? The bull! The lion, as he’d later be named?
“Later it all became clear. That sprint? That jump over the wall? The terrorist was after his next victim. Ari saw that,” Hillel continued. “No blood in his veins? That’s not an excuse. So he sprinted. And saved her. She became part of the family as a result.”
Hillel stressed how in the months that followed, he saw how “insanely resilient” his family remained.
“That’s a word I didn’t comprehend before,” he wrote. “I didn’t understand what that meant. Nor did I understand the word ‘trauma.’
“But they lived. They mourned. They cried. They suffered. They still are – endlessly. But from where I was sitting, I was the only one who couldn’t put on my socks in the morning. I’m probably wrong. I know I am, actually,” Hillel wrote, explaining that “We all react differently but all I know is, I was very concerned for my future. Nothing was for sure anymore.”
Hillel continued: “Luckily, my father – the rock of this family, the one who told us countless times over the past year that this is the card we were dealt and we need to live – luckily he spoke on my behalf and brought the world to tears.
“Over the next 12 months, I learned about heroism,” Hillel emphasized, addressing the bravery of each and every member of the Fuld family – describing their strength and continued resilience in the face of this hellish ordeal.
“Ari created a tsunami in this world, the ripples of which I believe we’ll feel for decades,” Hillel stressed. “He left this world the way only he would want to leave this world. He wrote the script of his death, and that script was his life. The life of a hero.
“He left behind a legacy of a hero, an extended family of heroes, a group of close friends who are all heroes – and me, his very sad little brother... One whole year,” he concluded.
Efrat’s chief rabbi Shlomo Riskin told The Jerusalem Post that Ari spoke constantly about the importance of the State of Israel and the importance of sacrifice on behalf of the state.
“His heroism had a tremendous impact, especially on families that made aliyah to Efrat in recent years,” Riskin explained. “In addition, I know of many young people who were motivated to go into elite combat units in the IDF because of his sacrifice.”
On Facebook and Twitter, friends and former students shared their thoughts, calling Ari “an unapologetic fighter for Israel,” “a great friend,” “a true hero,” “a legend,” “kind” and “a good man.”
Social media users also called on the broader Jewish community to do good deeds in Ari’s memory, continue his legacy and spread “light and goodness.”
Ari’s final project before his death was raising money with Daniel Haller for a 10-ton hospitality truck that would travel around the country boosting soldiers’ morale by providing supplies for more than 3,500 soldiers on a daily basis.
“We go into the most remote areas [where IDF soldiers are serving that] no civilians [can] get to – and we’re buying a truck now that’s able to go to these areas” and supply IDF soldiers, Ari said in a video.
One year later, Ari’s endless legacy continues to touch lives.