One of Israel’s youngest terror victims was 5-month old Yehuda Shoham. Yehuda, a resident of Shiloh, was travelling by car with his parents near the Jewish community of Eli in the Biblical heartland when terrorists began pelting the vehicle with stones, crushing the baby’s skull.
Six days after the attack, Yehuda succumbed to his injuries and died in this hospital. He was buried in his hometown of Shiloh.
Benny Shoham, father of Yehuda Shoham, works as a building contractor in Samaria. Some years after Yehuda’s death, Benny was approached to head-up the development and building of a Yeshiva (a religious boys high school) in Shiloh. Until this point, the community of Shiloh had been lacking a proper educational institution for teenage boys.
“This project is very important to me because I lost my son and now I have the opportunity to build a high school for children here in Shiloh. This gives us a lot of comfort, for me and my family”, said Benny Shoham.
For millions, Yehuda represents the unbreakable connection between the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.
Wednesday, April 18, marks Israel’s Memorial Day for the country’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
In the last 70 years, countless individuals have given their lives to help fulfill the Jewish dream and Biblical prophecy of building a Jewish home in Eretz Yisrael. Hundreds of children have lost their lives almost before they began.
But this Yom HaZikaron, we look at how they may have lost their physical lives, but their memories and their impact on the Land and People of Israel continues.
Hallel Yaffa Ariel
On June 30, 2016 Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, was murdered in her bedroom by a Palestinian terrorist in the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba, located in Israel’s Biblical heartland.
Hallel was described by her parents as a bright and fun-loving child who loved to dance and dreamt of one day becoming a zoologist.
In the wake of her murder, the Israeli government alloted millions of shekels to Kiryat Arba and neighboring Chevron (Hebron) to strengthen these communities through social programs, education, and the construction of new homes.
In addition, Hallel’s parents have been vocal in encouraging Jews to ascend to and pray at the Temple Mount in honor of their daughter.
In the last two years, an unprecedented number of Jews have heeded their call and made pilgrimage to the Temple Mount in Hallel’s memory. Most recently, over the Passover holiday, some 2,000 Jews went up on the Temple Mount.
Yoav, Elad, and Hadas Fogel
In one of the most heinous terror attacks in Israeli history, 5 members of the Fogel family were murdered in their home in the Israeli community of Itamar on March 11, 2011. The news of this attack left Israelis reeling as they mourned the deaths of Ehud, Ruth, and their children Yoav, Elad, and 3-month-old Hadas.
In the months following this attack, some 34 Israeli newborns were named after one or more of the victims of the Fogel Family.
Gilad Shear, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel
“The three boys,” as they have become known across Israel, were kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2015. This kidnapping of Gilad (16), Eyal (19) and Naftali (16) launched the military operation “Brother’s Keeper” in search of the three boys. Nearly two weeks after their kidnapping, the bodies of the three boys were recovered.
In 2014, Oz veGaon Nature Reserve was established in the heart of Judea in memory of the boys. This nature reserve overlooks the sight of the abduction of the three boys.
The mission of this reserve is to strengthen the connection between the Land and the People of Israel. This beautiful natural oasis educates and inspires youth about the ecology, society and values of Israel.
The memory of Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali lives on at Oz veGaon and inspires the next generation of Israelis.
17- year old Shmuel Yerushalmi was killed along with six others when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated at a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem.
Shmuel, a Shiloh native, was on his way home after completing his end of year examinations. “He was a bright student and loved by all” said a family friend.
Shmuel’s parents and seven siblings dealt with his death by continuing to live in Shiloh. This decision exemplified the family’s commitment and determination to perpetuate Jewish life in the Biblical city.
Hila, Hadar, Roni, and Merav Hatuel
On May 2, 2004, Hila (11), Hadar (9), Roni (7) and Merav (2) were murdered along with their 8-month pregnant mother, Tali. The members of the Hatuel family were shot in their car while driving in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip.
In 2017, the cornerstones of a new synagogue and a number of other public buildings were laid in the memory of the Hatuel girls in the Lachish region in southern Israel.
The memory and legacy of these young girls is being perpetuated through the prayers and study that takes place in this new synagogue.
Yom Hazikaron is a day of mourning, remembrance and reflection. It is natural to think of all that has been stolen from the People of Israel on this day. While nothing can replace the lives of the innocent children lost to terror, their memory and legacies will continue to leave a positive and lasting impact on the People and the Land of Israel.