'He was the spirit of the community, a perfect family man'

Elliot Fine of Wales among the victims of terror abroad to be memorialized today.

Elliot Fine 248.888 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Elliot Fine 248.888
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Elliot Fine was a family man, a beloved public speaker and an active member of his Cardiff, Wales, Jewish community. He was asked regularly to speak at celebratory events, be they public or private, and his comments were often laced with tongue-in-cheek poetry. And then, one Saturday morning in September 1981, as Elliot walked to synagogue with three of his children, his neighbor - who had already perpetrated numerous anti-Semitic acts in the neighborhood - rammed his car into the family before getting out and stabbing the elder Fine to death. A taxi driver who witnessed the incident chased the neighbor down in his cab, alerting police along the way and managing to subdue the attacker. After his arrest, the assailant - son of an immigrant from east Germany, who had harassed the family for years beforehand - pled insanity, and remains in a Welsh psychiatric ward. But the story, which sent shock waves through the Welsh Jewish community and was documented in the Welsh and Israeli press at the time, also prompted Fine's family - a daughter, three sons and his widow - to make aliya less than a year later. Still, the sheer cruelty and tragic loss of one of that community's brightest members continues to echo from the past. Fine, along with other Jewish victims of terrorism and hate crimes worldwide, will be honored at a Jewish Agency event in Jerusalem on Tuesday, as they have been for the last three years. "For many years I felt that it was taboo to talk about our incident, that it was eclipsed by the grief and remembrance of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for Israel's security," Fine's youngest son, Richard, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Richard, who was with his father that fateful Saturday morning, explained that while the pain of losing his father in such a tremendous act of hatred was still a matter of personal grief, it brought some closure to see his father's name included on a monument with other Jews who had perished while sanctifying God's name, and to finally be comforted among the mourners of Zion. "In some ways, my father's sacrifice didn't seem heroic enough," Richard said. "Yet we still felt our loss was more than just a personal one." About a decade ago, Israel started to memorialize those killed in terror attacks in Israel. Later, the Jewish Agency began to hold a ceremony of its own to remember Jews who were killed abroad in anti-Semitic incidents. "Although it is not a state ceremony, I feel that we've finally received recognition for the tragic circumstances that brought my family to Israel, and I think that it's an important step towards pulling together all of the ends of Israeli society," Richard said. Fine was buried at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem in 1982. His surviving family, who originally settled in Jerusalem after making aliya, has now spread across Israel, with members in Beit Shemesh, Netanya and Zichron Ya'akov. Richard and his family currently reside in Ma'aleh Adumim, and altogether, Elliot's grandchildren now number 13. To see his family continue to grow, Richard said, was yet another way to honor his father's memory. "My father was the spirit of the community," Richard said. "And he was always a perfect family man." The Jewish Agency's Remembrance Day ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, in the courtyard of the Jewish Agency building on King George Street in Jerusalem. In addition to Elliot Fine and the other Jews who have perished at the hands of hatred, Norma Schvartzblatt Rabinovich, who was murdered at the Mumbai Chabad House during the terrorist attacks in that Indian city last November, and Moshe Nahari, who was murdered in late December by Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen, appear on the monument.