Faces of Iron: Shuki 

Stand for Israel  |  June 4, 2024

Elderly man wearing gray and white striped shirt.
(Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)

The days leading up to October 7, 2023, were quiet days. They were happy days. As the High Holy Days season ended and the people of southern Israel celebrated Sukkot, the biblical Festival of Tabernacles, 63-year-old Shuki enjoyed hosting his neighbors in the town of Ofakim in the large sukkah he had built.

“We are very humble people,” Shuki says. “The neighbors know each other and always help each other in times of need.”

When rockets began falling on the southern Israeli neighborhood that morning, Shuki and eight others ran from the sukkah to their apartment building’s bomb shelter. Gunshots sounded outside. The attack was more than just the usual rockets—terrorists had invaded the neighborhood, intent on murdering anyone they encountered. All that stood between life and death was the door of the bomb shelter.

“I told all the people who were with me in the shelter to be quiet and not say a word,” says Shuki.

But bomb shelter doors are not made to be locked—in times of rocket attacks, rescuers from the outside need to be able to enter to save those taking shelter. That meant that the armed terrorists could enter.

“There was a bicycle frame by the door,” Shuki recalls. “I took it and used it to block the door so that the terrorists could not open it.”

Shuki held that door closed for nearly six hours—never letting go of the handle even when the Hamas gunmen opened fire on it.

Many Israelis from Shuki’s neighborhood were murdered that day, including a close friend who was unable to make it to the shelter in time.

But thanks to this shelter—and to the ongoing support of Fellowship friends around the world—Shuki and eight other Israelis from this small town on Israel’s border with Gaza survived. And thanks to your support, they hope that this next year’s sacred season will be a “celebration to remember all the people who were killed and say ‘Am Yisrael Chai (the Nation of Israel lives)!’”

Read more Faces of Iron stories and learn how The Fellowship is helping survivors of October 7.