Jewish tradition follows the lunar calendar. Jews engage in the modern world and use the solar calendar to set secular events. Festivals, birthdays, and anniversaries of deaths are celebrated and commemorated on the lunar date, not the Gregorian calendar the world universally uses today. Jewish tradition also has its own names for the months, preferring to call this month Tishrie over September. Certain calendar dates take on unique importance and are observed annually. The 15th of Nissan (Passover), the 25th of Kislev (Chanukah),and the 14th of Adar (Purim), are all festive dates celebrated. Other dates are commemorated annually as sad dates, hearkening back to a historic tragedy too great to forget. The 9th of Av (destruction of the Temples), the 10th of Tevet (the siege on Jerusalem) and the 3rd of Tishrie (Gedaliah’s assassination and the solidifying of the exile) are all examples. There are also personal dates that people observe individually, the yahrtziet (day of a relative’s passing) is sometimes observed with a fast, while a birthday is celebrated.
The 7th of Tishrei will always be a deeply personal day it should be a day of national commemoration as well. A year ago today a Jewish man, a hero long before his celebrated last heroic act, was murdered. Ari Fuld, zecher tzaddik l’bracha, was a learned Jewish warrior. He was, a Jewish man set on developing a deep relationship with God while also fighting in defense of the Jewish people.
Ari was courageous. He joined Israel’s defense forces as an American immigrant, an easy exemption could have excused him but he served with valor. Fighting in Israel’s second Lebanon war he faced death and stood up to it. He served in his reserve unit well after he was no longer required. When not serving in the army he protected his town of Efrat on its municipal security force. He was a gibor.
Ari was dedicated. It wasn’t sufficient for him to practice, he taught his values as well. He taught at schools in Israel, he traveled the world speaking to all kinds of audiences and kept a formidable presence online. He understood the centrality of education to the continuation ofJewish values and ensured they were taught.
Ari was a role model. My students often praised Ari for practicing what he preached. He was a religious Jew whose Torah study and mitzvah observance was his top priority. He had a family that he loved. He advocated for Israel and put his life on the line for it. He was genuine; the real deal. People perceived his wholesomeness and gravitated towards it. They loved him and looked up to him. Everyone wanted to be Ari.
A year ago today Ari modeled how a Jewish hero acts in the face of challenge. Running a mundane shopping errand he was stabbed by a cowardly Palestinian Arab terrorist. Ari was attacked for no other reason than being a Jew on his historic land. Ari chased his attacker, shooting him and ensuring that his attacker could hurt no other Jews. Successful in defending his people one last time, bleeding and fatally injured, Ari sat down and slowly passed from us.
One year after his passing a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t thought about Ari. Our nation was enhanced by his influence. He explained events to us, taught us Torah and showed us how to act. We are missing his courage, commitment and example. The 7th of Tishrie will forever be a day to be commemorated by those of us who knew him and those who only heard of him.