Eli Kay memorial agricultural event to be held in Negev over Hanukkah

The event, named "Lighting Up the Land" was organized by the Shomer Hachadash organization, where Kay volunteered prior to his military service.

 Eli Kay, the 26-year-old South African oleh who was killed in a Hamas terrorist attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Hashomer Hachadash/Facebook)
Eli Kay, the 26-year-old South African oleh who was killed in a Hamas terrorist attack in the Old City of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Hashomer Hachadash/Facebook)

Thousands of youth will take part in a two-day agricultural event in the Negev during Hanukkah in memory of Eli Kay, the 26-year-old murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday.

The event, named "Lighting Up the Land" was organized by the Shomer Hachadash (New Guardian) organization, which Kay volunteered for prior to his military service. Now in its second year, the event brings together thousands of youth for two days of agricultural work in four different southern towns: Revivim, Retamim, Sde Boker and Maslul.

"During his journey through life, Eli loved the country and did all he could in order to give to others whenever needed," said Shomer Hachadash CEO and founder Yoel Zilberman. "We are approaching the beginning of Hanukkah, which symbolizes above all else the victory of light over darkness. This is now our chance to spread Eli's light all over the country and continue his never-ending activism," he said.

Thousands of shirts with Kay's image on them were produced for the event, and a memorial ceremony and study circles will be held in his memory. 

"it was clear to us that our yearly volunteering event would be held in his memory," Zilberman said. "It will be emotional to see families coming from all over the country to join in the different events and commemorate his life. That is the least we can do in order to continue his legacy."

 The funeral of Eli Kay, the lone soldier who was fatally shot by a terrorist in an attack in Jerusalem's Old City, November 22, 2021.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) The funeral of Eli Kay, the lone soldier who was fatally shot by a terrorist in an attack in Jerusalem's Old City, November 22, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Kay was shot to death and four others were injured by a Hamas preacher and teacher near the Temple Mount on Sunday. 

Kay was the grandson of Rabbi Shlomo Levin, the rabbi of South Hampstead United Synagogue in London, and the son of Avi and Devorah Kay. He moved to Israel from Johannesburg on his own in 2016 to study at the Chabad yeshiva in Kiryat Gat. A year later, he volunteered to serve in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade in the framework of Machal, the government's program for overseas volunteers.

Despite being injured a few times in the IDF, he completed his military service in August 2019. After deciding to officially make aliyah, he volunteered at Kibbutz Nirim on the Gaza border for a year and most recently worked as a guide for the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem. 

Kay was planning to marry his fiancée, Jen Schiff, in just a few months’ time.