Note: This article was selected as a finalist for The Norman E. Alexander Award for Excellence in Jewish Student Writing Contest. About 60 high school contestants from around the country answered the following question: “Who do you think should be in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame?” The contest is sponsored by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame and The Jewish Week Media Group.
On any other night, the diverse jumble of Jews could argue with one another about Gemara or Halacha or politics or anything. Tonight, was different. Watching Tamar circle Michaya under the chuppah, only tears could capture the blend of joy, pride and sorrow. Tonight, they cried together. And there was Ari, witnessing his daughter carry forward the flame of Judaism.
Six months earlier, Ari went on a routine September shopping trip to the Harim Mall. Khalil Jabarin had meticulously smuggled a knife into the area, and when he saw Ari, he unleashed his calculated rage with a long blade to Ari’s back.
Ari Fuld had faced the doors of death before. Queens born and raised, Ari immigrated to Israel in 1994 and volunteered as a combat soldier in the IDF. During his service, he narrowly avoided a lethal Lebanese gunshot. Neither scarred nor scared, he proudly fought as a reserve. At the age of 40, Ari received his discharge papers in the mail. He tore them up.
But on that Fall day, the terrorist hit his target. Ari’s body went into shock as blood poured from his back. The terrorist, assuming he had finished Ari, ran away to continue his spree. Ari stumbled, clutching his heart.
Ari had always possessed an uncontainable love for Israel and Judaism. A vehement Israel advocate, he defended Israel in the media and debated its critics. As assistant director of Standing Together, he organized visits, meals and treats for IDF soldiers. As a Torah scholar, he labored in Chumash and Gemara. As a father and a husband, he carried his family through difficult times. And as a Jew, on that fateful September day, Ari would not lay quiet.
Ari quickly gathered himself and drew his pistol. “If there is one word to describe my brother, it was a hero,” Ari’s brother Moshe would later tell the thousands of mourners at Ari’s funeral. Ari chased the terrorist. “You were always running toward danger instead of away from it,” his wife Miriam would cry. Ari mustered the energy to jump a fence in pursuit. “We are alive because of heroes like Ari. We will always remember him,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would declare. Ari fired at the terrorist and knocked him over, ending the attack. “He gave his life to sanctify God, to sanctify the land. If you would have asked him, that’s the way he would have said he wanted to go,” his father Yonah would say. Ari staggered. He was soon declared dead.
Ari Fuld’s love for Jews could not be quelled even by a knife to the heart. He is an eternal reminder that our nation is eternal. He screamed to the world: Am Yisrael Chai! And so, at that wedding, as his daughter continued the legacy of the Jewish people, there was no doubt: Ari Fuld was watching.
Jacob Weissman is a recent graduate of DRS Yeshiva High School in Woodmere, N.Y. Next year, he will be studying at Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Israel and will go on to attend the Macaulay Queens Honors Program.