Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of the city of Tzfat, participated on Sunday in the at the memorial ceremony marking two years since the brutal and cold-blooded massacre of five members of the Fogel family by Arab terrorists in the Shomron community of Itamar.
Rabbi Eliyahu had inspiring words for the participants, when he said that the ark in Mishkan Ehud, the study and prayer complex named after the father of the young family, Rabbi Udi Fogel, Hy"d (abbreviation for Hashem Yikom Damo, may G-d avenge his blood', words said for those slain for being Jews, ed.), appeared to him to look like the entrance to the Holy Temple.
“When we were in the study hall that is built from the stones of the place, I told Rabbi Ben-Yishai (the father of Ruth Fogel, Hy"d, ed.) that it looks like the entrance gate to the Holy Temple,” he said. “It is written that when they open the gates of the Temple, it is like opening the gates of heaven".
“Rabbi Ben-Yishai replied and said that these stones are stones that were taken from the home of the Fogel family,” continued Rabbi Eliyahu. “These stones formed the ark, perhaps the gates of heaven, perhaps a gate to the Holy Temple."
“When they asked me to pray, I stood there and, like in every other prayer, I tried to fulfill the halakha which says that when a person prays he should see himself as if he is in the Temple, as if he is standing in the sanctuary, with the Divine Presence. It's not so easy to do, but when I stood in front of these stones I felt like I really was at the gates of Heaven. It's amazing how such massive pain can open, for me and perhaps for others as well, Heavenly gates.”
He added, “Right here right in front of our eyes the verse ‘In thy blood you shall live’ (from the book of Ezekiel) is being fulfilled. May we all live and not sink into the pain of despair, but use that same pain to give us the confidence to build here another yeshiva and another community.”
Tzila Fogel, mother of Ehud Fogel, spoke Sunday at the same memorial ceremony, saying that the pain over her slain son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren only grows with each passing day.
"Two years have passed since the terrible tragedy, which left us feeling pain, longing, and most of all – constantly remembering,” she said. “This evening, too, is meant for reminding everyone of the names of Ehud, Ruth, Elad, Yoav and Hadas, may G-d avenge their blood. Pictures of memories, from childhood, youth, adolescence, family, pre-military academy, military service, and mostly – friends. Many friends. A lot of smiles with kind, sparkling eyes.”
Fogel said that Mishkan Ehud reminded her of her son and his family: "From far away it appears modest, but from within you see the greatness – exactly what epitomized the members of the [slain] family."