The world seemed darker on the morning of September 17 in my beautiful hometown. The sun didn’t shine as brightly that morning, and the birds didn’t sing as loudly in the Judean Hills. Our flags – the flag of Israel and the flag of Efrat, our town – were at half-mast. Everyone, young and old, was in mourning.
The day before, one of our own was murdered by an Arab terrorist. For 45 years too few, we were blessed with the presence of this special person. This was the first morning we woke up to a world without Ari Fuld in it.
The story wasn’t reported in mainstream media, but it should have been. Ari, whose name means “lion” was a true “Lion of Zion.” An American immigrant to Israel, Ari served in an elite unit in the Israel Defense Forces and dedicated his life to defending Israel on social media and in the news. He worked to support the soldiers of the IDF and served as a volunteer on the emergency response team in our town.
Ari protected us all, day and night, while his trust was firmly rooted in God alone. Everyone knew him as a really, really nice guy and a wonderful husband and father of four. And now he’s gone. There seems to be less oxygen in the air as we try to breathe while the loss weighs heavily on our hearts and our minds struggle to make sense of it all.
As one of Ari’s brothers said, he lived the life of a hero and died as a hero.
On the morning of September 16, Ari went to shop at our local supermarket in order to buy food for the upcoming holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On his way in, a 17-year-old Arab terrorist came behind him and stabbed Ari in the back, mortally wounding him. But Ari did not go down without a fight. With well-honed reflexes, Ari struck back and chased the terrorist. He jumped over a half wall, drew his gun, and shot the terrorist, preventing him from injuring others. Once he fired those bullets, Ari collapsed and succumbed to his injuries moments later.
The strong and mighty lion fell, his great roar silenced forever.
Even the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, could not understand how Ari managed to muster the strength to do what he did after being wounded so badly. It seems physically impossible. Another of Ari’s four brothers explained, “My brother did what he did not with his body, but with his soul.” I heard these words as I stood at Ari’s funeral the night following his murder with thousands of others mourners at 1:30 a.m. at our local cemetery.
There are so many things I could share with you about Ari, whom many called a “gentle giant.” How he was tall and strong enough to fight valiantly in Israel’s wars, and soft enough to teach my two young boys karate when we moved to Israel nearly a decade ago. I could go on and on about how his death has deeply affected my children, my community, the nation of Israel, and Jews and Christians around the world who knew Ari. I could tell you about his sincere dedication to the land of Israel, the Bible of Israel, and the people of Israel. But anything I could say would never do justice to this giant of a man or capture the loss that the entire world has sustained.
Instead, I will share with you what Ari himself would want you to know – the message he lived, taught, and died for his entire life. His message was to tell the truth about Israel no matter what the cost. To stop being afraid of what the world will think if we support Israel or if Israel defends herself. To be proud and loud about who we are and what we believe. To stand up and speak out to a world that has been fed a steady diet of lies about the people of Israel. And most of all, to never give up and never give in. To keep on fighting until our very last breath.
Just as he did.
May Ari’s memory never be forgotten, and may his soul be bound in the bundle of life (I Samuel 25:29).