David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.
For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.
David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
I’ve spent much time this week looking for photos. You might think, sitting in front of the screen for a few hours, viewing pictures, not too stressing. But in truth, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been searching for photos of my friend, Eyal Noked, who, a few months before his forty-first birthday, passed away on Saturday night.
At about 11:15 PM, the beeper message sent out to people’s homes and individual pagers had only three words: Baruch Dayan HaEmet – Blessed is the true judge. Such words are recited upon notification of a person’s death. No name accompanied this sad communication, but unfortunately, it was not necessary. All understood. Eyal was gone.
However, I think that Eyal didn’t ‘die’ as such. As is written about Eyal’s favorite prophet, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both assunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (Kings 2:11)
Eyal’s life was certainly filled with challenge. While serving in the army, he was attacked by terrorists who tried to steal his weapon and shot at him. Here in Hebron,he was, among other things, a paramedic. A number of years ago, attempting to help people wounded in a terror shooting at the Tel Hebron (Rumeida) neighborhood, he was shot in the shoulder by the terrorist. A few years ago, while driving a special paramedic motorcycle down the hill from Kiryat Arba to Hebron, Arabs starting throwing rocks at him. Swerving, attempting to dodge the rocks, he fell, with the motorcycle on top of him, breaking his leg in two places. Eyal opted to forgo surgery, knowing that the recovery time (and pain) would be extended by a number of months. Yet, despite the seriousness of the injury, one day I found him on the treadmill, next to me, in Hebron’s gym room. And he was moving much faster than me.
Some years ago Eyal was diagnosed with cancer. Several surgeries seemed to have removed the growth, and his recovery appeared complete. But a couple of years ago it returned. At some point he had no choice but to leave his position here in Hebron, investing his time in an attempt to again overcome the illness.
It’s difficult to describe Eyal’s role in Hebron. He did so much, in so many different positions. Not only as a colleague, but also as a friend. As one of the speakers at the funeral declared, many many people looked at him as their best friend. Here, in our offices, Eyal had an integral role in building Hebron, both on paper and physically. He was instrumental in major building projects, working day and night at Beit HaShalom, Beit Shapira and in the “Shalhevet neighborhood,” otherwise known as the ‘shuk.’ He was a firm believer in the ‘greening’ of Hebron, and spent many an hour finding places to plant flowers, trees, and bushes, which really beautified the city. He was also a paramedic and ambulance driver, on-call whenever needed. He also served as a senior advisor to one of Hebron’s executive directors, and was elected to the Hebron community council. Eyal was a key player in the reestablishment of Chabad’s presence in Hebron, working as Rabbi Danny Cohen’s right-hand man with all major Chabad projects, including the renewed permanent Jewish presence at the ancient Ashkenazi cemetery, site of the grave of Menucha Rachel Slonim. He also worked tirelessly to reestablish the Jewish presence at Joseph’s tomb in Shechem. Additionally he spent months in Gush Katif, prior to the expulsion, living and assisting in numerous projects undertaken at that time. He dedicated his life to Eretz Yisrael.
But, in truth, none of the above really describes Eyal. Perhaps the most fitting description portrayal of Eyal can be expressed in the words of his oldest son, Baruch Tzuri, seventeen years old, who, eulogizing his father at the funeral said, “Dad, you taught us that everything, but everything, comes from HaShem, from G-d. Just as you had no complaints, so too, we have no complaints to HaShem. We will continue in your path, knowing, believing, and living this axiom, that everything comes from HaShem.”
Much is written, in sacred Jewish literature, about the goal of every Jew, that being, ‘devakut with HaShem’ – roughly translated as ‘bind to HaShem, being at one with HaShem. This was, quite literally, the way Eyal lived. We have a job in this world, to do our part, but whatever happens is the Will of G-d. This is the way he lived and it’s also the way he died. I met him outside one day, and when he asked how I was, I sort of looked at him and raised my hands to the heavens, with the expression on my face not one of joy and happiness. He questioned me, as to the problem, and when I just looked at him he just smiled and said, ‘not because of me. Everything is fine, HaShem has me exactly where he wants me.’
In the past few weeks, even as his strength dwindled, he maintained his inner strength. A couple of weeks ago, despite that fact that his ability to speak, decreased, he lay in bed and spoke with a friend for two hours about faith and the goodness of G-d. And so it was with others, time and time again, up until the end.
Eyal taught me many things, different classes to listen to via internet, how to drive my car, and how to think clearly. A couple of years ago I was supposed to visit the US for an extended visit. A few people had invested a lot of time to help organize the trip. The only problem was that I became ill, with what later was diagnosed as mono, and really didn’t have the strength to travel. On the other hand, I didn’t want to offend the people who were working very hard to help me and Hebron. I was in a real bind, not knowing what to do.
Eyal happened to be in the office that day, so I decided to ask his advice. He thought for a moment and then asked, “Did you ask them, in the US, what would happen if you had to cancel?” “No,” I answered. “So call them and listen, not only to what they say, but also how they say it. If they’re really upset, go. But if they can deal with it, stay here.”
Very simple advice. And it worked.
Another man, speaking at the funeral, told how he had been involved in an accident, which crushed his leg. He’d been brought to the hospital, but was left lying in the emergency room, without being treated. After a while, not knowing what to do, he called his friend Eyal and asked him what to do. Eyal heard him and then asked, “Your head, it’s ok? And your neck, your arms and your stomach, they’re all ok? And your leg, left or right? Left – and above the knee or below the knee. Below? That’s all? Your injured only on your left leg, below the knee? Man, you have to laugh!” And Eyal started laughing, over the phone, until his friend too started laughing, almost rolling on the floor, thanking G-d that the injury wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
Eyal’s wife of about 20 years, Einat, told of Eyal’s passing.
‘Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet, was Eyal’s favorite prophet. He read about him over and over. On Thursday, after I read to him the verses describing how Elihayu left this world, he said to me, “I’m not on the level of Eliyahu, but that’s the way I feel.”
On Shabbat afternoon he told me, “we are not separated. We will always be together, I’m just moving up one floor.” Later, after Shabbat, he tried to tell me something, but couldn’t talk. He motioned with his arm, and I realized he wanted someone to study Torah with him, to pray with him. I called one of his friends, and when he came over and started recited Torah and prayers, Eyal’s eyes opened and he radiated with joy. Later, we were all there in the room. I called a righteous doctor, who could discern the exact moment of the soul’s departure from the body. He sat opposite Eyal, staring at his eyes. Eyal’s face and eyes emanated rapture, seeing the angels awaiting him, above him. He had said that he did not fear death, that he was totally at peace with his situation, and so it was. Suddenly the doctor yelled, ‘Shema Yisrael’ and then all those present did so, and you could actually see his neshama, his soul, leave his body. We weren’t crying, it was a moment of Divine exaltation.’
Last Rosh HaShana eve, following services, I went over to Eyal’s house to wish him a happy New Year. His kids told me that he wasn’t home, that he’d gone to Ma’arat HaMachpela to pray. I told them that if he wanted, there would be prayer services at Beit Hadassah the next morning. But they said that he’d worship again at Machpela.
The next morning, despite his illness and weakness, he was there. But he didn’t only pray. He also trumpeted the Shofar, the ram’s horn, blown every Rosh HaShana. The shofar isn’t blown once. Rather, one hundred times. The laws concerning this special mitzvah are detailed and intricate. Many times, if the sound produced is not exactly right, it must be repeated.
Eyal stood and blew the shofar, on the first day, one hundred times. And he blew the Shofar again, on the second day of Rosh HaShana, one hundred times. And he did not make one mistake, on either day. Not one time did he have to repeat himself. And the sound that he produced from that ram’s horn, I’ve never heard anything like it in my life. So it was, Eyal, sick with cancer, less than a year ago.
Not yet forty one, nine children, and one grandchild, born less than a month ago.
I have no doubt whatsoever, that as Eyal’s neshama, as his soul left his body, in the heaven’s above, hundreds and thousands of ram’s horns began trumpeting, with a voice heard, above them all, ‘the Shofar-blower from Hebron, the Shofar-blower from Ma’arat HaMachpela is arriving. The Shofar-blower is arriving. Let us all go greet the shofar-blower from Hebron.’
Next Rosh HaShana will not be the same.
Eyal will be sorely missed, for many many years to come.
More photos at: http://www.hebron.com/english/gallery.php?id=415
Following Eyal's passing, Vaad HaRabbanim in Jerusalem opened a special fund for the family. All money donated goes to the family. There aren't any percentages or fees to anyone else.
Contributions can be made to Fund number 3050 - this number must be given or the donation will not reach them! In Israel, 1-800-22-36-36 or from any cell phone at *072 In the US, Vaad Rabbanim, 221 Regent Dr., Lakewood, NJ 08701 Tel: 732-367-0234 In Canada: Canadian Friends of Vaad Rabbanim, 5831 Esplanade, Montreal, Quebec, H2T3A2 Tel: 732-367-0234
People are asked, if they can, to donate 40 Shekels (about $15.) for 50 months. However, any amount, for any given time, would be most welcome. Thank you very much.
The Brit of Eyal's first grandson, Uri Michael, a short time before Eyal's death. Eyal is the Sandak, holding the baby during the ceremony.
When Bibi arrives at AIPAC, he must receive a huge, huge, huge welcome, not because he’s Bibi. but because he is the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, who was sucker-punched by the President of the United States A number of years ago, also on a Friday afternoon, I wrote an article based upon a visit from American ‘diplomats’ to Hebron. They were supposedly part of an ‘economic team’ in Israel together with American negotiators, pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Arabs. Actually, the men who spoke with me for a couple of hours were clearly spies, who I wrote about and named, undoubtedly working for one of the US spy agencies, the CIA or the like.
Never give up. That’s not only our password. They use it too. The United States still has agents in Israel. And they still try to pump us for information, even here in Hebron. I’ve been working as a liaison with these folks for about fifteen years, and truthfully, I enjoy it. It allows me a chance to strike back, in my own subtle (or not so subtle) way. I don’t lie to them – I have nothing to lie about. But sometimes I have a good time with them.
For instance, today, a few hours ago. Of course, today’s topic of conversation is last night’s ‘Obamanation.’ No, I didn’t misspell obamination. I wrote it the right way. This guy’s chutzpa has achieved heights never yet reached by human beings.
Netanyahu is on the way to Ben Gurion airport, leaving Israel for a scheduled meeting with Obama the next morning. Included in the visit are scheduled two major speeches: At AIPAC, the largest Israeli lobby in the United State, and later an address to a joint meeting of Congress, before all American lawmakers, Congressmen and Senators alike. Big time stuff.
Except that the Israel right isn't very happy. To the contrary. Bibi’s speech in the Knesset a few days ago didn’t leave anyone who loves Eretz Yisrael feeling too good. Sure, he spoke about holding on to ‘settlement blocks’ but refused to acknowledge Israeli rights to places like Hebron and Kiryat Arba, or Beit El and Shilo or communities housing somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 Jews. He also hemmed and hawed at our continued civilian communities in the Jordan Valley, talking only about a permanent military presence there. Clearly, the between-the-lines message was direct: I will cut up Eretz Yisrael, destroy communities, abandon holy sites, and expel tens and hundreds of thousands from their homes, in the ‘name of piece.’
Of course, this was all conditional on Fatah’s divorcing Hamas, etc. etc. But we all know what happens when you hold a chocolate candy bar in front of a child. The kid will promise anything, but anything, to bite into the sweet gooey mess, only to promptly forget all his guarantees five minutes later.
Isn’t this the minimum of what we’ve learned from Oslo and Gush Katif?
Obama knows all of this. But it’s not enough. A few hours prior to the journey to America, Bibi gets a call from Hillary, who springs the surprise: Tonight the US will officially call for Israel’s return to the 1967 pre-Six Day war borders. Bibi’s arguments aren’t convincing. So even before the plane takes off, Obama sucker-punches Bibi, and collectively, the State of Israel and Jews around the world, in the gut. Before the discussions begin, prior to Bibi’s speeches, during which he probably would have reiterated, perhaps even upping the ante, in Washington, Obama attempts to throw a knockout punch, under the belt, hoping to leave the Prime Minister and the State of Israel out cold.
This is the president of the United States of America. A street-fighting sucker-puncher from Chicago. Well, what can I say? The Americans voted him in.
Bibi’s reaction was to be expected. Lukewarm at best, demanding ‘assurances’ and exclaiming that the 1967 borders are indefensible.
Assurances? Not too long ago a friend over here asked me if I have US citizenship. Replying positively, he asked if I vote in US presidential elections. I replied of course not. What, I’m going to vote for one of them, only to bear witness later to his undivided attempts to destroy Israel. True, some may be better than others, but I really don’t trust any of them.
We all know what Bibi should have said. This is our land and we are not about to abandon it to people who murder our men, women, children and babies in their sleep, who shoot rockets into our cities, and unequivocally declare their continued desire to erase us from the map.
But he didn’t. And probably won’t. After all, he’s Bibi.
But, a couple of hours ago, when my latest counterpart from the US consulate in Jerusalem called me, asking for my reaction to last night’s Obamanation, I surprised him. I told that, in my opinion, the speech was excellent and I’m very happy Obama made it.
On the other end of the line, total quiet.
I continued: “The speech was great because I believe it will, eventually, lead to the full annexation of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. After all, when you push people into a corner, and this isn’t just a corner, it’s the corner’s corner, they have no choice but to push themselves out, any way they can. Israel’s reaction, and this is already being discussed in various circles, will be to annex all of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, as a result of continued pressure to abandon all of it to our sworn enemies.
This is wonderful. I won’t have to argue with people about whether Hebron is or is not a part of the State of Israel. It will be, just as is Jerusalem, a recognized city in the sovereign state of Israel.
And honestly, I’m not sure whether Israel would consider doing so without Obama’s speech and demands. So, I would thank Obama for making such a fine speech for Israel.”
The guy was stunned.
I also asked him if it was true that when Netanyahu arrived at the White House, the US was going to fly, not only an American and Israeli flag, but also a Hamas flag.
He hadn’t heard that rumor.
So much for cynicism. What can be done, immediately? A campaign should begin today: Stand for Bibi, Sit for Obama.
When Bibi arrives at AIPAC, (and also in Congress, but that’s easier to arrange), he must receive a huge, huge, huge welcome, with all delegates there on their feet, applauding for at least 15 minutes. That should be his welcome. Ditto when he finishes. Not because he’s Bibi. But because he is the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, who was sucker-punched by the President of the United States.
Obama is also scheduled to speak at AIPAC. When he arrives, no one should move, stand up or applaud. And that’s the way it should remain, until he finally does them a favor and leaves. Afterwards they should applaud his exit from the room. A standing ovation. To a vacant podium.
The leadership of American Jewry and all those attending AIPAC must make it clear as day. We Jews will not take it in the gut. We know how to fight back.
And, by the way, fear not. We will annex Yehuda and Shomron and the Jordan Valley. No Obamanation is going to stop us from living in our land. Not now, not ever.
Back in February, 2008, speaking to my friend and colleague Baruch Gordon, I mentioned thinking about writing a blog.
Previously I'd worked extensively with Arutz 7, Israel National News. A while back I'd hosted a weekly radio show, and had sent them articles and commentaries, posted on their site for years. I felt like we were two arms of one body.
As soon as I said the word blog, Baruch exclaimed, "You've got one." And so, on 5 Adar 5768, that being February 11, 2008, my first INN blog appeared.
I have no idea how many postings I've pasted into my "New Message" blog box since then, but yesterday, or maybe on Sunday, this blog went over 300,000 pageviews. As far as I'm concerned, that's amazing.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for showing such interest, not only in Hebron, and my postings, but for taking the time to read the news and articles and other blogs appearing on this wonderful and important web site.
Additionally, of course, gratitude to Arutz 7 - INN for providing me this space. Without them, this blog would not exist.
However, a blog without some other content is not sufficient.
A few days ago friends of mine from Norway visited Hebron. Mr. Leif Wellerop, the Nowegian director of ICEJ has been a friend of mine, and of Hebron, for many years. Recently an article appeared in a Norwegian newspaper about 'apartheid in Hebron." He came in to investigate the allegations and discover the truth. I spent time with him and several of his friends, including the ICEJ director from Sri Lanka, showing them the real apartheid in Hebron.
Following our tour, I conducted a short interview with Leif, which I post here for your viewing.