Writing the letters in the Torah scroll
Writing the letters in the Torah scrollCourtesy

On the morning of Simchat Torah (October 7, 2023), when Captain Shilo Cohen, a squad commander in the special forces unit Shaldag, heard about the invasion in the south while at his home in Sderot, he did not hesitate for a moment.

Without waiting for a call, he "hitched a ride" with a team from another special forces unit, Sayeret Matkal, to Kibbutz Be'eri, where he fought for hours until he was killed in action in the afternoon.

The members of the Bnei Akiva branch in Sderot, where Shilo was a graduate, decided to memorialize him in the most fitting way. They made great efforts and raised 200,000 NIS for the writing of a Torah scroll in his memory.

On the evening of the holiday of Shavuot, an emotional ceremony was held to dedicate the Torah scroll at the branch where he was educated, with the participation of Shilo's family members, the mayor of Sderot, the city rabbi, and the Secretary-General of Bnei Akiva.

"Simchat Torah was truly his holiday; he was happy with the Torah and made sure to bring people to Sderot to rejoice and dance on this holiday. Dedicating a Torah scroll in his memory - it is so appropriate for him. It's to be happy. Shilo certainly would have wanted to be connected to the Torah; Shilo dances with us today," said his father, Haim Cohen.

Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Yigal Klein added: "The dedication of the Torah scroll is our nation's great victory. On the day they tried to shut down our joy of the Torah, from which we derive strength and inspiration, we succeed in rising and increasing more and more Torah. At the beginning of the holiday of the giving of the Torah, we choose to look forward, to take the great light of Shilo, of blessed memory, and his special connection to the Torah, and to expand and enhance the connection to the Torah within the people of Israel. The choice of the branch members to memorialize Shilo through the connection to the Torah symbolizes more than anything the amazing generation growing here, who will continue his path with strength and pride."