On Sunday morning, Rabbi Zeev Katzenellebogen prayed at the Kotel (Western Wall) and was returning to his home in the Old City when he was attacked by a Palestinian terrorist armed with a Gustav submachine gun. ‘
“I was going home from Shacharis(morning prayer, still wrapped in my tallis and tefillin,” Rabbi Katzenellebogen related from his hospital bed. “I heard gunshots and chaos. I didn’t really understand what was going on but I realized that there was an incident. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my arm right at the place of my tefillin (phylacteries).”
In what can only be described as a miracle, one of the bullets struck the leather box containing parchments with Torah verses that were tied to his upper arm adjacent to his heart, as per the Biblical requirement.
Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; (Deuteronomy 6:8)
“When I realized what happened, I immediately returned toward the Kosel plaza so I would be in a safe place,” The father of eight children related. “I understand what a great miracle I experienced. I could have lost my life in a second. It was a kindness from Hashem (God). I could have lost my life at that moment. The tefillin are opposite the heart, there’s a connection to Hashem and you feel protected. It was an extremely powerful experience.”
Tragically, Eliyahu David Kaye, a 26-year-old new immigrant from South Africa, was murdered in the attack.
In addition, another Israeli and two policemen were injured in the attack.
The Palestinian terrorist, later identified as a member of Hamas, was shot and killed by police.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said the terrorist lived in the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.
“He was a member of Hamas, the political branch not the armed wing,” Bar-Lev told Israel’s Kan television. He added that the terrorist’s family had left Israel for Jordan several days ago, indicating that the attack was coordinated in advance.