Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hundreds Attend Fogel Memorial

Placing cornerstone in Itamar (Photo: Ido Erez)
Relatives of slain family members mark end of 30-day mourning period. Participants place cornerstone for new kollel named after Ehud Fogel.
'You're looking at us from above, wondering what all the fuss is about; this is all in your honor,' says Ruth Fogel's father
Article by: Yair Altman  4/10/11 Israel News

Hundreds gathered on Sunday in the West Bank settlement of Itamar to mark the end of the 30-day mourning period for five members of the Fogel family, who were brutally murdered in their sleep.

The participants placed a cornerstone for a new kollel building, which will be named "Mishkan Ehud" (Ehud's residence), after the father of the family, Ehud Fogel, who taught at the yeshiva.
Among the attendees were relatives of the Fogel family, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, Knesset Members Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Uri Ariel (National Union), as well as Chairman of the Yesha Council Danny Dayan.
"You are now looking at us from above, probably surprised to see so many people," said Ruth Fogel's father, Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai.

"What's all the fuss about? I came here as a father to tell you this is all in your honor.

Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai and Haim Fogel (Photo: Ido Erez)
"We, the families, are trying to fulfill our part, our small part, in the respect all the people of Israel have for you. You were such humane people in your long-short path," said Ruth's father.

"People keep calling from all over the world, 30 days later," he added, "They keep telling us, the parents, what kind of people you were and continue to be."

Ehud's father, Haim Fogel, said: "Your lives were short and full of experiences; from Netzarim, which called upon you to study the Torah in such a difficult, important and challenging place, through your struggle to convince the people of Israel of the grave mistake of evacuating Gush Katif, and all the way to building your new home in Ariel and Itamar – the last stop."

Speaking at the opening of the ceremony, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar said, "there is the mourning of an individual, the mourning of a family, the mourning of a town and city, and also the mourning of a whole society.

"Bless all of you for not drowning in bitterness, but rather building a deserving home. Bless you for standing firm even in these trying times," he said.

Many of the participants signed a Megillah scroll, which was recited by former Chief Military Rabbi and yeshiva Head Rabbi Avichai Rontzki and then placed with the foundations of the building.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Twin Peaks: Itamar’s Mayor Knows The Blessing And Curse

Itamar's Mayor, Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith: 
"Itamar is a strong place. Nothing is
going to break our spirit."
Fogels’ friend comes to the U.S. to explain the beleaguered town.
Article: The (New York) Jewish Week  Tuesday March 29,2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thousands Gather on Purim to Bless Itamar

Thousands gathered in Itamar for Purim Celebrations exactly one week aftter the attack on the Fogel Family, to show support and love for the family and the Itamar community.

Am Yisrael Chai!  The People of Israel Live!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Joy amidst the Mourning - A Special Wedding at Joseph's Tomb

Miri Tzachi,
Shomron Regional Council

Itamar Residents Celebrate Wedding at Joseph's Tomb! 
by Hillel Fendel   Israel National News

The army periodically allows and enables Israelis to enter the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) – but no previous visit was ever as moving as the wedding there last night.

Hundreds of residents of Itamar, still reeling from the Palestinian terror  massacre of the Fogel family five days earlier, arrived for a special prayer service – highlighted by the wedding ceremony of a resident of an Itamar  hilltop, Moshe Orlinsky, and his betrothed, Natalya Zucher.

The two had planned to get married in Itamar, but decided to hold the joyous ceremony at the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb instead – the first wedding known to have ever taken place there. The intensity of emotion left no eye dry.  Click on the video below!  

The officiating rabbi was Itamar’s rabbi, Rabbi Natan Chai, and wedding blessings were recited by Breslov leader Rabbi Shalom Arush, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef (son of Shas leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef), Shomron Region Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Yitzhar Rabbi David Dudkevitch, and the Kabbalist Rabbi Yaakov Deutsch.

The ketubah (marriage contract) was read aloud by IDF Shomron Brigade Rabbi Capt. David Feig.

The local IDF commander, Shomron Brigade Commander Col. Nimrod Aloni, wished the young couple “Jewish home full of joy, faith, and warmth.” Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika noted the residents’ emotional roller-coaster of late, and said: “The prophet says, ‘With your blood you shall live – unfortunately, we had to go through five ‘bloods’ [the five murdered Fogel family members – ed.], but in the merit of this exalted occasion, it will strengthen all of us – the people of Itamar, the residents of the entire Shomron, and all of Israel; we will gather the broken pieces together and we will become stronger.”
Yosef's Pursuit of Unity Supports the Jewish Nation
Rabbi Chai said, "We thank G-d for giving us the fortitude to carry on… and we thank IDF Commander Nimrod Aloni, who made great efforts to enable us to hold this chupah here … It was near this spot that Yosef said, ‘I seek my brothers,’ and this pursuit of unity and love for Israel is what unites us and gives us the strength; Yosef had a coat of many colors – symbolizing that there are many aspects to the Jewish People, and each tribe has its place, but they are all unified.”

Other blessings were offered by Yesha Council head Danny Dayan, Rabbi Dudkevitch, and IDF Commander Maki Siboni. Musician and actor Golan Azulai provided the music, at no charge.

IDF and West Bank Residents save Arab baby

 IDF Corporal Levin and Palestinian baby, Jude

It felt amazing to hold girl in my arms,
know we did something good

Saving life after massacre
IDF troops and paramedics save life of Palestinian woman giving birth in settlement where Fogel relatives sitting Shiva.

See Full Story:  By Yair Altman

Just take a moment to ponder this event.  This happened
in the town where the Fogel family was sitting shiva for their butchered family.  IDF forces guarding the area and local paramedics who would be grieving along with the family, didn't give a second thought to saving the lives of a baby being born to a Palestinian woman - perhaps a sworn enemy.

How does this make sense?  While the response to the murder of 3 month old Hamas Fogel in the Arab village below Itamar was fireworks, the response of the IDF and Jewish paramedics to the need of a Palestinian mother in trouble was mercy and I might add, joy.  The very "human" expression of joy of witnessing and participating in the miracle of new life.  The paramedics and IDF shared the joy with the Palestinians from the nearby village of Nabi Salah along with the new grandmother.  How can some in the same community find joy in the death of another beautiful baby of another mother and another grandmother?  How is this "humanly" possible?  I don't understand this darkness of heart and this "un-human" evil.

Rabbi Yakov Cohen interview - Itamar neighbor of the Fogel

The neighbor of Udi and Ruth Fogel family, Rabbi Yakov Cohen describes his entrance to Fogel home and helping Tamar Fogel enter her home to discover gruesome murders.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yoav's Prayer

Photo: Original Source Unknown
This little wooden plaque hung above the bed of
slain 11 year old Yoav.  This must have expressed his belief
May it be Your will, L-rd G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that I love every one of Israel as myself, and to graciously perform the positive commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself.

And may it also be Your will, Lord G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that you cause the hearts of my friends and neighbors to love me fervently, and that I be accepted and desirable to everyone, and that I be loving and pleasant, and that I be gracious and merciful in the eyes  of all who see me. As water reflects face to face, so the heart of man to man.   And all for the sake of Heaven, to do Your will.   Amen.

Yoav Fogel

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter From Mayor Moshe and Leah Goldsmith

Source: A letter to our Face Book friends, from  Moshe and Leah Goldsmith  By FB Itamar Israel Support Group

Dearest Friends of Itamar,  First of all we want to thank you from the depths of our hearts for all your support and encouragement to the Fogel family and to all the residents of Itamar in the last few days. 

Itamar has been our home for 27 years. It is also the home to over 100 jewish families. Itamar is the heart of Israel, our identity and our roots. After 2,000 years of being exiled from our land, the remnant of the Jewish people has come together and returned. It is God's work, a war for the Jewish people's survival. We see hatred all around us. I ask you; what hasn't Israel given for peace? We are a people of peace. And all we've got back is bloodshed. The world need to know this is our home. We are here to stay and the world is going to have to live with that

Friday's horror has made Itamar stronger and more determined to live and grow.  The Israeli government's announcement on Sunday that it would permit the construction of more than 400 new homes in West Bank settlements. This does not honor the dead. It is an insult to us and to the dead. Expansion of Itamar is an unassailable right, not a payment for these terrible murders

Dear friends, Exodus 1, which states that the more Pharaoh caused the Jews in Egypt to suffer, the more they increased and became stronger. We have now had 20 victims of terror attacks here in Itamar, a much higher number relative to our population than nearly anywhere else in Israel. With the devastating murders of the Fogel family which include 3 precious children, Itamar is more committed than ever to grow and prosper. We thank you for standing with us during this most tragic time. May G-d bless you and your families as you bless us!   Moshe and Leah Goldsmith

"I Will Be Their Mother" Says 12 Year Old Tamar Fogel

Photo: Flash 90
"I Will Be Their Mother" Says 12 Year Old Tamar Fogel

by Uzi Baruch  Israel National News

The eldest daughter of the Fogel family, 12 year old Tamar, promised her relatives: "I will be strong and succeed in overcoming this. I understand the task that stands before me, and I will be a mother to my siblings". The  orphaned youngster's words were quoted in the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom.

their home in the town of Neve Tsuf in Samaria, Tsila and Chaim Fogel, parents of Udi, are sitting on low benches for the traditional “shiva” week of mourning  alongside his three brothers and sister.  There is a constant stream of comforters going in and out of the house, VIP's and ordinary citizens from all over Israel, whose hearts go out to the bereft family that lost son, daughter-in-law, and three young grandchildren in a barbaric terrorist slaughter on Friday night.

Chaim Fogel continues to retell the story of terrible hours from 3 a.m. on, when he received the horrific news, drove to Itamar, met his 12 year old granddaughter and then entered the family’s home. The authorities were forced to ask her to tell what she saw when she returned from her youth group activity to find her family’s bloodsoaked bodies at 12:30 a.m. Chaim himself had the heartbreaking task of identifying the bodies.

We came to take the surviving grandchildren out of the Valley of Death, he said. I don’t wish on anyone in the world the sight I saw. It is horrendous, beyond description, beyond comprehension".

The grandparents recalled the last time they saw Udi, Ruti and the children, a week and a half ago on Saturday night. They celebrated the start of the month of Adar Bet in Itamar, danced, sang and laughed.

"At least they had a taste of Purim", said Udi’s mother Tzila. "I didn’t feel any premonitions. Why should I have thought that I will never see them again? I am not trying to remember if there was anything of that nature in my mind. We were happy together. We have photos of the children playing and happy".

The family is against any personal revenge or taking the law into civilian hands. Their slain children felt the same, they said, unequivocally.

The Ben Yishai home of Ruti’s parents in Jerusalem, where the surviving grandchildren are now, is also crowded with comforters. After the mourning week is over, the family will decide where the children will live. Meanwhile, they are having difficulty in explaining to the youngest child what happened to his parents. "What shall we tell them?" they said. "What does a two-year-old understand when he cries over the loss of his parents? They tell us that children heal quickly, mentally and physically. We hope so".

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mourning Father of Fogel Massacre Victim ‘Strengthens Israel’

Israel news photo: Flash 90 
In a radio interview on radio Monday, Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai,
the mourning father of Ruth Fogel, one of the five victims of the Itamar massacre, taught a lesson of faith and strengthened the People of Israel.

Article by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu   Israel National News

His inspiring remarks on Voice of Israel government radio stunned
the interviewer into near silence and brought tears to her eyes.

After Rabbi Ben-Yishai expressed deep pain but no anger or calls for vengeance, interviewer Estie Perez, who has described herself as a secular Jew, asked, “Where do you have the strength and restraint that you can talk now and strengthen us, without anger and without calling for vengeance – that is not in your voice?

Where is the strength from?"

Rabbi Ben-Yishai answered, "I have worked in education many years, and as an educator, I try to strengthen and teach people faith. I understand that I cannot be satisfied with words and that I also must implement the same principles on which I have educated others. This is a test of my faith, and therefore I agreed to be interviewed."

"I believe in the country, in our strength and in the strength of the army, and I ask how did this strength not save our children?”

Rabbi Ben-Yishai said Monday morning that he asked the oldest surviving children, 12-year-old Tamar and eight-year-old Ro’i, if they wanted to say the Kaddish prayer, recited by mourners and expressing their faith in the Creator.

“They answered, ‘Of course. They are our parents, brothers and sisters.’” The mourning father and grandfather told Voice of Israel government radio, “They understand.” He said, “We [the grandparents]
will take upon ourselves the difficult task and pave for them the path so that life will be victorious."

“Their mother and father will pray for them from the Heavens, their grandfathers and grandmothers will give them a lot of love, and the People of Israel will hug them and encourage them to grow and continue in the path of their parents."

Rabbi Ben-Yishai said that the only thing he regrets is that he did not tell his daughter Ruth and his grandchildren enough times, “I love you. I love you." He added, "If I could go back in time, I would say so every five minutes, but that would not be enough.”

Rabbi Ben-Yishai revealed that the police came to his home in Neve Tzuf, in Samaria, on Shabbat to inform him of the attack but that no one was home because they were visiting in the north. “The Creator was kind to us” by his not having to bear the bad news on the holy Sabbath. “Our daughter called after Shabbat, assuming we already knew."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Rabbi Ben-Yishai on the telephone Saturday night and visited him Sunday morning. “He felt great sorrow and said that the entire People of Israel are part of the sorrow. We hugged each other,” Rabbi Ben-Yishai said.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Amazing Response to the Tragedy

I think that of all the things that I have read about the tragedy in Itamar, this is what touchs me the most.  It is a quotation from a neighbor of the Fogels in Itamar - Rachel Gordon.  She wrote a description of the night and how it unfolded for her family.  The following quotation from her tale just ASTOUNDS me. 

The people in Itamar have been branded by the world as "West Bank Settlers", as perpretartors of evil and as the ones who are standing in the way of "peace in the Middle East".  On the contray, they have been called by God to come home to their land and make it florish.  They desire to live G-dly lives following His instructions in Torah.  Apparently they have learned their Torah lesson well.  This quote says it all...

"For every Jew murdered, more orchards, more fields, more greenhouses will be planted; another house, another neighborhood, another village will be built, with the compassion and benevolence that we learn from the Torah and will continue to teach to our children"      Rachel Gordon - Neighbor of The Fogels

Stay strong in your purpose Rachel and citzens of Itamar. You are not alone. You have MANY friends.

Read her entire story at Chabad Israel

Netanyahu Visits Mourning Relatives of the Slain Family

Article By: by Maayana Miskin & Yoni Kempinski  Israel National News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the mourning relatives of the slain members of the Fogel family on Sunday evening.  See Video Link of the Visit.

Netanyahu told the family, “They shoot, and we build.” Referring to Jewish tradition, he said, “They say the land of Israel is built with hardship. But we did not realize the suffering would be this great.”

“This evil act has caused all of us to say, 'Enough.' The security forces will do everything they can to find the murderers, and we will find them.”

Fogel Family Funeral

5 Coffins: 3 Regular & 2 Small (Photo Israel News)
20,000 attend Itamar massacre victims' funeral

Udi, Ruth Fogel, three of their children – Yoav, Elad and Hadas who were killed Friday night in terror attack, laid to rest at Jerusalem cemetery. Senior government, religious officials attending. 'Barbaric act that only animals are capable of,' says childhood friend. Chief rabbi: Make Itamar major city   By Ronen Medzini Israel News
Five coffins, two regular sized, 3 small ones. This is the appalling scene that met the eyes of the thousands attending the funeral of the five members of the Fogel family who were brutally murdered Friday night in the settlement of Itamar terror attack.

The funeral was held at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. According to the police, some 20,000 people attended the funeral.

Former Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was the first to eulogize saying: "There are situations, there are days there are hours where you are at loss for words. You sit feel and sense the pain, feel the anger and mostly, feel the powerlessness…

"When you imagined that this circle of terror closed maybe 66 years ago and when the blood of infants runs like water and 1.5 million children were trampled by human beasts… it has been 66 years, we've declared statehood, gained our independence, established the enviable IDF. And still, the circle of terror and the river of blood flow and we stand helpless." 

Rabbi Lau added: "What can you say when you see a three month old baby stabbed to death? What do you say?" He stressed: "We will not bend, we will not give up, we returned to the land of our fathers and it is our home, and the children shall return within their borders and nothing will prevent our faith in the righteousness of our path."

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told those on hand, "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt. Amalek is here - people who are capable of tearing and butchering a whole family when they came home from prayer services."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said in his eulogy that construction on the Land of Israel is not an act of retaliation or vengeance and that Israel will continue to build at any place and any time.

"You were the personification of devotion to the Zionist vision, pioneers. Your hands held both scythe and book, teachers and settlers whose entire lives were the love of their country and the love they had for their neighbors," Rivlin said. "Build more, live more, more footholds – that is our response to the murderers so that they know – they can't defeat us."

Minister Moshe Ya'alon attacked the Palestinian Authority over its anti-Israel incitement. "The murderers, if they'll be jailed, will be recognized as heroes and they will be honored by (Palestinian) schools. Such acts are routine with our neighbors.

"As long as this murderous education persists, as long as the leadership's wild incitement continues, any agreement we sign will not be worth the paper it is written on. Moreover, (any agreement) will be breached due to the venomous education and incitement to Jewish hatred," added the minister.

Rabbi Yehuda Ben Yishai, Ruth Fogel's father said: "We shall not bid you farewell. You shall come visit us like pure angels."

Rafi Ben-basat, a childhood friend of the father – Udi Fogel said that "the family is going through a very difficult time; we are trying to encourage them and give them strength. This was a barbaric act that only animals are capable of. It is time for the nation to sober up and tell its leaders to stop the concession for concession system.

Udi's brother Motti said: "All the slogans about Torah and settlement, the Land of Israel and the Jewish people try to make us fotget the simple and painful truth: You are gone. You are gone and no slogan will bring you back. Above all, this funeral must be a private event. Udi, you are not a symbol or a national event. Your life had a purpose of its own and your horrid death must not render life into a vehicle. You are my brother and shall remain my brother."

Omri Efraim contributed to the report

Israel Distributing Itamar Massacre Photos

Images of gruesome murders in West Bank settlement being released online by unofficial sources. PR expert: We must show the world what kind of animals Israel is dealing with. Analyst: It won’t change people's opinion of Jewish state Aviel Magnezi Israel News

Fogel family home in Itamar (Photo: Ben Kelmer)

Elements within the settler leadership distributed over the weekend gruesome photos from the scene of the terror attack in which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.

Officials at the Prime Minister's Office considered the option of releasing the shocking photographs to raise global awareness to the threats Israel is facing, but eventually decided against the move.

Those in favor of releasing the photos from Itamar say they would force the international community to come face to face with the cruelty of Palestinian terrorism, while others claim that not publishing the photos would further underscore the differences between Israel and the terrorists.

Most PR experts who spoke to Ynet said the government should have released the photos, with the authorization of the Fogel family. "We should use photos and videos, in which the victims' faces are blurred, to show the world what kind of animals the State of Israel is dealing with," strategic advisor and crisis management expert Roni Rimon said.

He said releasing the images is necessary in order to convince anyone who is willing to listen that "Israel is dealing with forces that do not conduct themselves according to conventional laws of war, but rather to the law of the jungle.

"Israel spends tens of billions of dollars on security, but it neglects the PR aspect, which is just as important as advanced tanks and planes," Rimon added. "It is crucial that people understand the difference between us and them. We must stress that that when we kill civilians it is by mistake, but they butcher an entire family in the middle of the night. The photos serve as unequivocal proof of this."

Communications expert Yariv Ben-Eliezer of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya also believes Israel should distribute the photos "to show the kind of horrors we are exposed to," adding "in this war, pictures are the bullets."

PR expert Amnon Shomron agrees that the fight for global awareness is a "dirty" one. "If we claim that we are facing wild animals – we have to provide visual proof, not only statements," he says.

Shomron mentions the horrific photos form the lynching of two IDF reservists in Ramallah in 2000. "Being humane does not require us not to show the other side's brutality," he contends.

However, Yoram Schweitzer, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies and an expert on international terrorism said Israel must remember that the massacre in Itamar took place as the world is focused on the devastating earthquake in Japan. "Obviously, images from the massacre can shock hundreds of thousands, but they won't change people's opinion of Israel – be it positive or negative," he said.

Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report

Itamar Mayor Goldmith and His Wife Leah Respond To Fogel Massacre

Mayor of Itamar: 'Strong Backbone of Love' Holds Us Up

For Leah Goldsmith, a long-time resident of Itamar and the wife of the town's mayor, Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith, the horrible tragedy of last Friday carries with it one bittersweet  consolation: In a reaction to the murders of five members of the Fogel family, she has no doubt that Itamar will grow and prosper.

“We have now had 20 victims of terror attacks here in Itamar, a much higher number relative to our population than nearly anywhere else,” Goldsmith tells Arutz 7. “In 2002, three boys from the Yeshivar Hitzim high school in Itamar were killed by a terrorist, and we thought that was the end of the school. What parent would want to send their children to study here? But soon after, the school expanded – quadrupled – its student body. And we've had similar stories after all the terror attacks on our town.” With the murders of the five members of the family - Rabbi Udi Fogel, 36, mother Ruth, 35, and children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4 and three month old Hadas - she is sure that the town will continue to grow.

Her words evoke the verse in Exodus 1, which states that the more Pharaoh caused the Jews in Egypt to suffer, the more they increased and became stronger.

Goldsmith and her husband the mayor, who is also one of the founders of Yeshivat Hitzim, know Itamar as well as anyone. Both made aliyah from the U.S., and have been living in Itamar for about 15 years.

In an interview with Israel National News, Rabbi Goldsmith described the "strong backbone of love in Israel" that helps residents cope with the horror:   See Video Link Of Mayor Goldsmith's Interview.

The town's website explains its significance as part of the hills known as Gav Hahar, the strategic "hump of the mountain". In  this area,  families are spread upon ancient mountains, called Harey Kedem. There are 4 communities, Itamar, Bracha - situated on the mountain of the Blessing, Yitzhar, and Elon Moreh. Each one has a panorama unique to its position on the mountainsides:

Leah Goldsmith wrote about the town on the website: "It is hill country, tremendously big, picturesque and mysterious, varied with long and wide valleys who resemble a mosaic coat of many colors ranging from pea to deep jade greens and chestnut browns in the winter and spring months. In the summertime the colors are dry, like the colors of Rebbeca's jug, in which she served Eliezer and the camels in Babylon.

There are springs and wells in the hills. The bounty stemming from the blessing given to Joesph…."The blessings of the father are potent above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills"(Vayechi 49). The tribunal portions of Ephraim and Menashe, the sons of Joseph run across these highlands. In every direction that one looks, the views are emanated with authentic biblical greatness and Jewish nobility. This is the chief feature of the landscape, of your life in it, and you are struck by the feeling of having lived here in the past."

Itamar is full of people like the Fogels, says Leah Goldsmith – idealistic people who gave up everything for a life of Torah. Indeed, Yitzhak Shadmi, chairman of the town of Neve Tzuf and a close friend of the family, said that the murdered Udi Fogel was a brilliant studenta and “could have been a scientist, but chose to be an Torah educator.”

Goldsmith affirms that Udi, and the whole family, were indeed special people. “He was a very bright, articulate person. They originally lived in Gush Katif, and when they were thrown out of their homes in the 'disengagement' they moved to Ariel, and from there to Itamar.”

The Fogels, like many others, were attracted by the deep spirituality that Itamar evokes. “We can look out of our windows and see Mt. Grizim and Mt. Eval, the Biblical mountains of blessing and curse,” Goldsmith says. “And it's very appropriate; I, and so many others who come here, feel blessed.”

Many of those who live in Itamar are engaged in learning or education, and the town is home to not only Yeshivat Hitzim, but also to a Yeshiva Gavoha (adult level yeshiva), presided over by Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, who was until recently the Chief Rabbi of the IDF. Despite the ongoing terror attacks on the town, the Yeshiva now has over 170 full time students; Rabbi Fogel was a teacher in the yeshiva, and his wife, Ruth, was a teacher in nearby Ma'ale Levonah.

The town also has several businesses, and is known for its organic farming, whose products are marketed all over Israel. Many of the residents earn their livelihood by raising olives, goats and sheep, with a number of larger farms, such as Joseph's Blessing Eco-farm (, which produces a range of products, such as cheese and olive oil.

One thing Itamar is not, says Goldsmith, is “peripheral,” an inaccurate picture painted by the media. “We are exactly one hour away from Jerusalem and the Gush Dan area in the coastal plain.  On the map we are at a geographical centerpoint of the Land of Israel. That is anything but peripheral.”

One reason that Itamar is a  target for terrorists, is that it stands in the way of their reaching the Tel Aviv area in the center of the country. “This land is not separate from the coastal plain; it's all one small country. As thickheaded  as our leaders can be, I think they have to realize this on some level.”

Saturday, March 12, 2011

News From Itamar's Web Site

Arab Terrorists Murder Family in Samaria; 3 Children Flee Alive

Adar Bet 6, 5771, 12 March 11 08:02 by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( Arab terrorists executed their own ”price tag” policy for the elimination and relaxation of security checkpoints and murdered five people in a family in the Jewish community of Itamar, in northeast Samaria, around 11p.m. Friday night.

The only survivors were a 12-year-old girl, who returned from a Bnei Akiva event to discover her parents and three of her brothers and sisters dead in pools of blood, and two younger brothers, who were sleeping a separate room.

The victims of the brutal murders at Itamar, in Samaria, Friday night are Rabbi Udi Fogel, his wife Ruth, 11-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad and three-month-old Hadas. Rabbi Fogel taught at the Itamar post-high school yeshiva, whose senior rabbi is former IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky.

The brutal murders followed dozens of warnings from nationalists and leaders in Judea and Samaria that the constant easing of security procedures, implemented by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would be the prelude to terrorist attacks.

The army is investigating the attack, but it already is known that the security fence did not include cameras and other equipment requested by Itamar, according to Shomron (Samaria) regional Council chairman Gershon Mesika.

An electronic warning system at the fence did not function.

The United States, which has pressured Israel to ease security procedures, condemned the attacks and offered its condolences to the survivors and “to the Israeli people.” It urged the Palestinian Authority to "unequivocally" condemn the murders.

Itamar Masscare: The Fogel Family was butchered while sleeping in their home

3 Month Old Hadas

4 Year Old Elad



Rabbi Ude Fogel

11 Year Old Yoav

Ruth Fogel

The names of Itamar attack victims were cleared for publication Saturday evening:
Udi Fogel, 36
Ruth Fogel, 35
Their children Yoav, 11
Elad, 4
and three-month-old Hadas were stabbed to death.
The surviving kids are staying with grandparents

Friday, March 11, 2011

Please Pray For Our Friends In Itamar

Horror in Samaria:
Terrorist murders family of 5
Terrorist stabs five family members to death in settlement of Itamar early Saturday; three children, including baby girl, among victims. Paramedic describes horrific sight, toys next to pools of blood....
Yair Altman 
For more details, see the full article at (Israel News)

Also see the article from (Haaretz).
IDF troops near Itamar (Photo: Ido Erez)