Oh Ari. I don’t know where to begin. When we made aliyah, Matan was 4. By the time he was 5, he was already learning karate with Ari Fuld. And what a force Ari was. He was an incredible role model for everything we wanted for our little oleh. He was strong, determined, loving and capable. He taught the kids karate, but in the process he taught them self-worth, determination, love of Israel, and so much more.
Matan spent years with Ari. And then Yehuda started with him too. The lessons they learned from this brave, amazing man are endless.
And then, as my kids grew and moved on to other activities, we continued seeing Ari all the time. We would see him on Facebook meeting with tourists to discuss Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. We would listen to his podcasts where he would discuss Israel and defend Israel over and over and over again. We would admire his Thursday night pictures at the Kotel, where he would go to recharge. And every Friday morning I would think — wow how does Ari have that much energy?
While I was tucked safely in bed, he was driving to the Kotel to be with Hashem, and to videotape his weekly trip there so that others around the world could feel that they were there with him. Every Friday afternoon, we would see his post with the Israeli flag blowing in the background outside his home. He would wish all of us a “Shabbat Shalom from the beautiful Rolling Hills of Judea Israel.”
I always turned to Ari when difficulties arose around us. When there was a rumor that the three boys who went missing in the summer of 2014 had been saved, I messaged Ari. He wrote “Just have to be patient and daven.” Then, when the bodies of the three were found, I wrote to Ari again. I begged him to tell me that it wasn’t true. In addition to information that he gave to me, he wrote, “It’s our own fault! When we start talking truth and stand up for Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and stop talking to terrorists, this won’t happen.”
The list goes on and on.
A few years ago, when there were stabbings happening in Gush Etzion and around the country, Ari set up self-defense classes in Neve Daniel for women. He was tough as nails and held class after class after class filled with terrified women, helping us to feel a little more comfortable in our surroundings and with the strength in our bodies.
Today, when the terrorist stabbed someone at Tzomet HaGush, I wanted to get in touch with Ari. But I held off. I figured he’d be busy with the Kitat Konenut (he was part of the rapid response team in Efrat that protected the citizens whenever there was an issue) and I didn’t want to bother him.
And as I told my husband, if you had given me a list of 5,000 people that might have been killed today, Ari would have been the last on the list.
Thank you Ari, for all that you gave to Matan and Yehuda in their youth; to all that you gave to us as olim living near you and learning from you; to all that you gave to Gush Etzion, Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael.
There are few words to express how sorely we will all miss such a great person. And may your family, your beautiful family, be comforted by your memory. The memory of such a great person and defender of Israel.
This post was first published on the Times of Israel website.