A prayer rally was held Sunday night at the Western Wall for Nathaniel Felber, the soldier from the Netzah Yehudah battalion who was critically injured in a shooting attack earlier this month outside the Givat Asaf settlement outpost in which another two soldiers were killed.
Several hundred people attended the rally, including numerous soldiers and the civilian and military heads of the IDF’s Netzah Yehudah battalion in which Felber served, as well as Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, municipal chief rabbi of Safed.
Speaking at the event, Felber’s father said that he very much appreciated everyone who came and asked all those in attendance to keep praying for his son.
Nathaniel’s Hebrew name is Netanel Ilan ben Shaina Tzipora.
“Nathaniel always prayed for all of the Jewish people, now we can repay the favor,” said his father.
“I know this next period will be hard, but no one can take away the most incredible 21 years of the first part of his life that we had with him and we will endure during whatever comes ahead.”
Late Friday afternoon, Felber began to breathe by himself for the first time since the attack and has made small movements including squeezing his sister’s hand and moving his arm when his father was putting tefillin on him.
Over Shabbat, hundreds of communities said special prayers in synagogues for Felber’s recovery in Israel and the US. Felber’s family immigrated to Israel from Silver Spring, Maryland in 2008.
Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, who lives in Raanana where the Felber’s reside, described the family as “charming and idealistically Zionist,” and Nathaniel as “a happy young man, with a huge heart,” who is always helping everyone and always doing good.
Bennett noted in particular that Felber has gone to old-age home for four years in a row every Shabbat to visit the residents and to help with Shabbat prayer services.
The minister helped promote the call for prayers to be said for Felber, asking that “all the people of Israel, secular, religious, and ultra-Orthodox, pray together for Nathaniel.”
A spokesman for the family said that in addition to the prayers, some 360 Jewish women on five continents participated in challah making ceremonies on Thursday on five continents last Thursday night, praying for Felber’s recovery.
Said one of Felber’s siblings “Nathaniel is strong and his smile always lights up the room when he comes in.”
Rabbi Dov Lipman, a former MK who also hails from Silver Spring, Maryland and is friendly with the Felber family, also mentioned Nathaniel’s happy disposition, saying that he is someone who is “all goodness,” who loves to be active helping others and studying Torah.
Lipman said Felber had chosen to serve in the Netzah Yehudah battalion, a unit designed for haredi soldiers, so that he could serve for the full three years of military service in a religious framework, instead of the 17 months mandatory service performed in the Hesder program for the religious-Zionist community.
“There’s a coming together of the English speaking immigrant community, because he’s one of us and people who have made aliyah in the last 15 years with kids in the army feel a special connection with him and his family,” said Lipman.