Thousands bid farewell to Itamar terror victims

‘All the symbols... are attempts to forget the simple fact that is riddled with pain: You are dead,’ Motti Fogel says at the funeral of his slain brother Udi and his family.

Fogel family funeral crowd 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Fogel family funeral crowd 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Thousands of mourners crowded the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem on Sunday to bid farewell to the five members of the Fogel family who were knifed to death in their home in the settlement of Itamar Friday night.
Udi, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, four, and Hadas, three months, were survived by 12-year-old Tamar – who found the bodies of her parents and siblings – eightyear- old Roi, and two-year-old Yishai. All three are now staying with their grandparents on the settlement of Neveh Tzuf (Halamish).
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The throng of mourners coming to Jerusalem clogged traffic throughout the capital, delaying the start of the funeral. For a crowd that by some estimates numbered 25,000, it was surprisingly quiet. There were a few political placards displayed by mourners and protesters on the streets of Jerusalem, but at Har Hamenuhot there was a feeling of quiet, shattered pain mixed with shock.
Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, Ruth’s father, described his deceased loved ones as “pure souls, righteous of the earth, loved ones, holy ones.”
Speaking of his deceased grandchildren, Ben-Yishai said, “Yoav, my grandson, a brilliant student whose life is over. Elad, who always smiled, even when he was burned by boiling water...
Hadas, the littlest, she was everything: cute, beautiful, close to her mother.”
He added, “Almighty God, take our pain as an offering.
Believe us, give to us, bathe us in your light to cast away the darkness. You know very well who you took.”
In his eulogy, Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said, “we’ve made it 63 years, we’ve declared a state and won independence and founded a glorious army, and still this circle of horror and river of tears is flowing and we stand helpless with a feeling that is impossible to put into words.”
Lau then addressed 12-yearold Tamar, saying, “in one cruel hour, you have become a little mother. You are now the mother of little Roi and Yishai, and you are only 12 years old.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon laid blame on the Palestinian Authority for its incitement against Jews, and said, “The murder is a reminder that the struggle and the conflict is not about the borders of Israel or the independence of a nation. It is about a struggle for our existence.”
Ya’alon also quoted the late poet Haim Nahman Bialik’s poem on the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, “On the Slaughter,” saying, “such a revenge – revenge for the blood of a little child – has yet been devised by Satan.”
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told the crowd that “the murderers did succeed, but only in uniting us.”
He added that as a response to the tragedy, Israel must step up construction in the settlements, saying, “another neighborhood, that’s the answer. More building, that’s the answer.”
The political statements seemed a bit lost on Udi’s brother Motti Fogel, who told the crowd, “Udi, it’s very hard for me to see all the people who came here. If I could, I would have them all leave and hug you and whisper in your ear, ‘Let’s go play soccer one last time.’ “All the symbols about settlement, the Land of Israel and the people of Israel are attempts to forget the simple fact that is riddled with pain: you are dead. You are dead and no symbol will bring you back. More than anything, this funeral must be a private event.”
Motti said to his brother, “You are not a national symbol or a national event. Your life was a purpose in and of itself, and it can’t be allowed for your terrible death to turn your life into some sort of tool, no matter for whom. You are my brother and you will stay my brother.”