Rabbi Sinai Julian, husband of longtime Arutz Sheva news and feature writer, journalist Hana Levi Julian, passed away on Wednesday evening following heart surgery.
Hana and Sinai's aliya is a tale worth retelling.
When Hana and Sinai Julian left Brooklyn and made aliyah to Israel with Nefesh B'Nefesh in 2003, they were welcomed to Israel in a most unusual way - they were invited and chose to spend their first three weeks to the Bedouin village of Dragot (Drijat in Arabic), located in the Negev desert!
The Julians came to Israel as part of a project by Nefesh B’Nefesh to bring at least a thousand North American Jews to Israel by the end of July of 2003. During that time period, immigration to the Jewish state had been on the decline because of the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, which began in September 2000.
While most American Jews, upon their arrival in Israel, have trouble adjusting to the changes in lifestyle and culture - such as they are - and choose to stay with relatives, go to an absorption center or a rented apartment to ease their way into Israeli society, the Julians and the four children who came with them, went directly from the airport to live with the 800 members of the Abu Hamad tribe in the Negev.
The reason? Sinai and Hana actually came to Israel after Abu Hamad, who met the Julians during a trip to Israel a year and a half before their aliyah, asked them what they were doing in New York, saying that as Jews, Israel is supposed to be their home country. That was all the convincing the Julians needed.
The Julians met and married in New York in 1990. Sinai was born into a secular Zionist family in Los Angeles. He had spent time at Kibbutz Gezer in the 1970s, but had returned to the U.S., became observant and received rabbinic ordination from the prestigious Chaim Berlin Yeshiva in New York. The Julians have four children together, and three from prior marriages.
After their three-week stay with the Bedouins, the family moved to the nearby city of Arad, where they were active members of the Chabad community there. It was there that Rabbi Sinai Julian was laid to rest on Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral, including residents of Arad and Drijat. A busload of people came from Jerusalem, and a number of those aboard the bus shared their memories and perspectives on Rabbi Julian's passing while en route.
People described him as a "tsaddik", a righteous man - and we, at Arutz Sheva, who tried to keep Hana's spirits up during the debilitating period of his illness when she was so dedicated to his welfare, know that she would have written this article much better than we - employing her knowledge, verve and writing talents to bring Sinai special z"l's personality to life.
In accordance with Jewish law for the month of Nissan, there was no formal eulogy at the funeral. The family is sitting shiva, the traditional seven-day mourning period, at 21 Saifan in Arad until Wednesday morning.