Twelve-year-old Tamar Fogel, the oldest survivor of the terrorist attack on the Fogel family this year, recently joined her Bnei Akiva chapter on a visit to French and Belgium to help strengthen the local Jewish communities.
It was Bnei Akiva that saved Tamar from death at her home community of Itamar, in northern Samaria. She was attending a Bnei Akiva meeting on the tragic Friday night in March while two Palestinian Authority terrorists brutally slaughtered her parents and three of five brothers and sisters in a barbaric attack that shocked Israel and Jews around the world.
She discovered the gruesome scene of the family’s dead bodies when she returned from Bnei Akiva, and she undoubtedly would have been murdered by the terrorists had she been at home.
The terrorists, both in their late teens and from a neighboring Arab village, have been arrested. They said that had they known there were two more sleeping chlldren in the house, they would have murdered them as well.
The visit to Europe was the first time Tamar and her friends from the Itamar chapter of the national religious group had been outside of Israel. They were accompanied by Rabbi Yehuda Ben Yishai, Tamar’s maternal grandfather.
“Many members of the Jewish delegation in France thought they would strengthen the youth of Itamar during their visit, but the opposite was true,” said Yigal Klein, director of counselors for Bnei Akiva.
“The Itamar delegation demonstrated faith and spiritual strength that surprised many of the adults and youth whom they met” in France and Belgium,” he added. “It was amazing to see how the community welcomed Rav Ben Yishai with a warm embrace, sorrow and pain. But as soon as Rabbi Ben Yishai began to speak, you could see how he strengthened the community.”
Running on a tight schedule, the youth from Itamar were interviewed on French radio and visited the Jewish communities of Marseilles and Paris, including several Jewish schools.
The French and Israeli groups overcame the language barrier by using body and sign language as well as songs known to many Jews, such as Am Yisrael Chai.
The French youth, who saw news of the terrorist attack in Itamar on local television, were hesitant to speak at first, but the ice was quickly broken as the Itamar group showed “it did not visit as if it were distant from them but rather from a place of love and with a loving embrace” said Pinchas Michaeli, the counselor of the Bnei Akiva group in Itamar.
Each member of the Itamar group told a personal story, and a film, prepared in Israel, showed the French and Belgian Jews what life is like in the community, both before and after the terrorist attack.
Communities in Samaria are working on twinning with Bnei Akiva chapters abroad, according to Shomron (Samaria) Liaison director David Ha'Ivri