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Ari Fuld, My Hero

September 20, 2018 | by Adina Hershberg

Beneath his courage and strength, Ari deeply loved his fellow Jews.

I never cried so much on Yom Kippur as I did this year. So many of the prayers reminded me of Ari. “Who by sword and who by beast.” “Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were slaughtered for Your Oneness.” “Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the revenge of the blood of Your servants." I thought of his widow Miriam and the rest of the family whose lives will never be the same.

I met Miriam when she was about 13. We lived in the same apartment building in Har Nof, Jerusalem. She and her sister Shoshana were babysitters for our older children. I met Ari at their engagement party. Who could have imagined that their married life would be brutally cut before they reached their silver wedding anniversary?

In time, both Ari and Miriam, as well as my family and I moved to Gush Etzion. They settled in the beautiful city of Efrat, while we settled in nearby rustic Rosh Tzurim.

This past Shabbat, the day before a ruthless and despicable Arab teen terrorist stabbed Ari to death, I mentioned Ari’s name at the Shabbat table. Our guests were a former lone soldier, who had lived in Rosh Tzurim during his service, and his family. “Ari Fuld is one of my heroes,” I said, and then proceeded to mention some of my experiences with Ari.

After the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif in southern Israel, rockets continued to fall upon southern communities. Ari organized trips to Sderot in order to help the businesses by having residents of Gush Etzion purchase items from the various businesses. I joined one of the Friday morning trips and was told to meet at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in Gush Etzion. To my dismay, only three people showed up: Ari, myself and one other man.

We traveled down to Sderot in Ari’s car. Once there, we spoke to some of the residents and made various purchases. Ari even stopped at a wedding hall with take-out food. Since engaged Israeli couples were not running to get married in Sderot due to the precarious security situation, the owners of the wedding hall were endeavoring to make a living with selling take-out food. One of the things that I purchased was Moroccan olives, a spicy dish containing tomato sauce. All of our food purchases joined the rest of our purchases in the back of the car.

We then headed back to Gush Etzion. Ari dropped me off at Kfar Etzion so that I could pick up my car. When we went to take out my purchases, we discovered that the sauce from the Moroccan olives had leaked out. I was horrified to discover that the sauce had attacked white karate outfits. (Ari had taught karate.) Ari took it so well. I was so apologetic and I told him that I wanted to pay for the karate outfits. He refused, even when I pressed him further. That encounter made such a positive impression upon me.

With time there were more encounters with Ari, who was such a trailblazer when it came to pro-Israel advocacy. When yet another rocket fell down south next to a kindergarten, Ari did something about it. He dropped everything, went to a bakery to buy cupcakes for the children (the bakery gave it to him free when he mentioned where he was going) and drove down to the community. He gave the cupcakes to the kindergarten and the children were delighted. He wasn’t allowed to film inside the kindergarten, but he filmed where the rocket had landed. He posted it along with his many other videos.

Ari was the associate director of “Standing Together,” an organization that gives the world-wide community an opportunity to show appreciation to Israeli soldiers. With a truck and Hospitality Trailer, volunteers regularly visit IDF soldiers to offer snacks, gifts, hot and cold drinks, support and gratitude. One time, Ari was driving in the Jordan Valley and he noticed a number of tanks off in the distance. He made some inquiries and discovered that the soldiers and their commanders were doing a three-day tank maneuver. Ari could not drive on such rugged terrain, so he contacted one of the commanders and told him that he had food for everyone. Meanwhile, Ari set up a repast fit for a king. Imagine how the soldiers felt after being cooped up for three days in their tanks subsisting on war rations.

Ari Schneider, who is a black belt and who studied under Ari related to me, “Ari was incredible with kids. With all that's been said about his strength and bravery, you wouldn't necessarily assume he was good with kids. But as a Martial Arts teacher Ari was always able to get through to them. When he would run class, he brought out the best in his students. Kids as young as seven could be seen giving it their all every time he shouted out a drill count. It didn't matter if they had ADD, self-confidence issues, whatever. In his class, every kid found their inner warrior, their inner ‘Ari’. I had to occasionally cover for Ari and try as I may, I could never match the impact he had on these kids. It takes someone very special to work with kids. Ari was special.”

It is so difficult to fathom why such a special person was ripped away from us. I imagine Ari, may God avenge his blood, standing in front of God pleading for the Jewish People. I imagine him demanding that God obliterate our enemies and bring world peace, and that God comfort the bereaved. Knowing Ari, he won’t leave God alone until his demands are met.

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