I didn’t have a second available the last three days to answer any of your questions. For three straight days we were beside ourselves praying to Hashem for the happy return home of Eliyahu. Unfortunately, the worst happened – Eliyahu was brutally murdered by blood thirsty terrorists.
There are no words to describe the special family that Eliyahu was part of. His father Yitro was born in Australia as a non-Jew and converted to Judaism. He made Aliyah 22 years ago and that’s when I personally met him in Yeshiva’t Machon Meir in Jerusalem. That very summer Yitro came to Itamar as a summer volunteer, still single at the time, and we worked together clearing a piece of land on Itamar and digging a pit for the Mikvah. Yitro returned to Jerusalem to continue his Torah study and later married his wife Miriam in 1987.
His wife Miriam was originally from a non-religious kibbutz called Bet Yosef. After her army service, she became religious and left the kibbutz, later adopted by Rabbi and Rebbitzen Drukman. After Yitro and Miriam were married, Yitro went to study Torah with Rabbi Drukmen in his Yeshiva Ohr Etzion. In 1991, they moved to Itamar and have been living there ever since. They have five wonderful children including Eliyahu.
Eliyahu was their first born, a quiet and sensitive boy always smiling. The last time I saw Eliyahu was last week in the synagogue. I was completely taken aback by his powerful devotion in prayer. Everyone had already left the shul and here Eliyahu was continuing to pray! One Rabbi on Itamar said that each Tifilah of Eliyahu had the same devotion and power that most people only achieve once a year during Tefilat Nieelah (closing prayer on Yom Kippur). Today when I paid a Shivah call at Yitro’s home he described the Tefilah of his son as a beautiful flower opening up to receive Divine abundance and as a pillar of fire.
A resident of Itamar, a boy the same age as Eliyahu who for the last few years has not been following Torah and Mitzvot, mentioned that Eliyahu recently convinced him to go to a yeshiva program. Unfortunately, after the terrible tragedy he expressed his fear about going to Yeshiva claiming that only the righteous suffer so much. This is only one small example of the difficult thoughts and feelings that our youth have to face. Thank G-D, Itamar is a united community and we are all working hard in order to get through this difficult experience. Our tremendous faith in Hashem will continue to give us the strength that we need to go on.
I want to thank all of you that have been there for us. Your constant concern and expression of solidarity is a tremendous uplift. Shabbat Shalom! Bisorot Tovot!