On Holocaust Memorial Day, terror victim Rabbi Leo Dee sends a message of hope

Hashem is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit He delivers. Though the misfortunes of the righteous be many, Hashem will save him from them all,




(the israel bible)

April 18, 2023

4 min read

Passover is normally a time of celebration but this year, a tragedy struck that touched the hearts of all of Israel. On April 7th, during the Passover holiday, Lucy Dee (48) and daughters Maia (20) and Rina (15) were gunned down by Palestinian terrorists, murdered on the Jordan Valley road on their way to a family hike. The daughters were declared dead at the scene, while Lucy was rushed to a hospital in critical condition but died three days later. Thousands attended the funerals.

They are survived by their husband and father Rabbi Leo Dee and three siblings – Keren, Tali, and Yehuda.

The terrorists remain at large.

On Tuesday, Israel365 headed by Rabbi Tuly Weisz visited Dee’s house of mourning. Coincidentally, the final day of the traditional seven-day mourning period was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We wanted to commemorate this day with the Dee family,” Rabbi Weisz said. “We came with condolences from the entire Israel365 community from all over the world whose hearts are broken and who are crying with the Dee family.”

Rabbi Weisz transmitted this message to Rabbi Dee at his home in Efrat.

“I think the non-Jews feel very connected to the day,” Rabbi Weisz told Rabbi Dee, connecting the murder of his family to the same hatred that fueled the Holocaust. “They feel a strong responsibility to fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”

Rabbi Dee then related a family anecdote of his great uncle, Leopold, his namesake.Once, his family traveled to Tzfat to visit the gravesite of his great-grandmother, Ruchama. They had never visited the gravesite before and had to search for it in the large and ancient cemetery. To his surprise, on the gravestone was a plaque dedicated to his namesake, Leopold, who was murdered with his wife and two daughters in the Holocaust north of Riga, Latvia’s capital. Leopold’s final resting place is unknown.

“I was probably the only member of my family that had ever seen this plaque,” Rabbi Dee said. “There was a strange feeling that here I am, Leo Dee, named after Leopold Voleitsky, looking at a plaque in his name.”

“And now, this happens to me, and I lose my wife and daughters,” Rabbi Dee continued. “I began thinking, ‘what is the connection between me and my great Uncle Leopold?’ While it feels like there is a great similarity, it also feels like there is a great difference. 

Rabbi Dee highlighted that as a Jew in Israel, he feels that he is looked after.

“Leopold was one of six million who was murdered pretty anonymously by the Nazi machine during the Shoah [Holocaust],” he said. “For most of the six million, the memory was eradicated, the whole family was eradicated. There was no one left to mourn. And yet, to me, here in Eretz Israel, my situation is so different. People are interested in my situation. I’ve had a warm hug from my whole community, from the whole Jewish community, in Israel and abroad. Even from Christians and even Muslims and my Palestinian neighbors. I’ve had a warm hug. And our story seems to have gone global overnight.”

“There is something about living in the Land of Israel as a Jew which means you’re no longer anonymous,” Rabbi Dee continued. “You’re no longer unimportant. You affect your community, you affect the country, you affect the world and your story is global.”

Rabbi Dee then requested that as a sign of unity, people post a photo of themselves on social media with an Israeli flag. 

“To show that Israel is a light unto the nations and a positive force for humanity,” he said, emphasizing that this would counter the media narrative that portrays Israel as part of a “cycle of violence.”

“What I’m calling for is a cycle of love,” Rabbi Dee said. “We’ve seen the cycle of love in Efrat We’ve seen the cycle of love in Israel, we’ve seen the cycle of love rippling across the whole world. And initiatives that take place here are rippling out to communities, Jewish communities, and non-Jewish communities, everywhere. And that is my hope, that from this terrible disaster that happened to our family. Good will come a bit and the ripples of a cycle of love will kill.”

Moments before the sound of the siren punctuated the somber day, Rabbi Dee gave a final message. 

“We have to say never again, and not just as a slogan, but every single one of us takes responsibility, Jews, Christians, Muslims, media, foreign governments, to make sure that this really is ‘never again’. It’s our responsibility. I’m empowering you. Please make it happen.”

Rabbi Dee has started a campaign to create memorials for his wife and daughters. Their cruel and tragic loss is something that the rest of their family has only just begun to comprehend. Leo was robbed of his wife and best friend as well as two daughters. Keren, Tali and Yehuda had their mother and two precious siblings stolen from them. There is no way to fill this void and replace what was ripped away from them so suddenly and mercilessly.

The only way for the Dee family to make sense of and begin to move on from this trauma is to believe that the deaths of their loved ones will mean something and will have a positive impact on the world. 

In a time when there really is no comfort, this is where they are finding theirs. 

The Dee Family, originally from London, is an integral part of the Efrat community in Gush Etzion. Together with the Dee Family, the Efrat Foundation will be funding three communal projects in memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina. Each project represents the qualities of Lucy, Maia and Rina—allowing their memories and values to inspire.

1. Rina Dee Youth Center — A building for the Ezra youth movement. Rina was an active participant and youth counselor in the Ezra youth movement.

2. Maia Dee’s Spring– A “maayan” (spring), commemorating Maia’s love for nature and water. It will be embedded in a beautifully designed landscape of foliage, flowers and trees, including picnic and play areas for all ages. 

3. Lucy Dee Simcha Hall – An exquisite event hall to celebrate community and life events honoring Lucy’s joyful disposition and her involvement in the community so near and dear to her.

In this small way, by visiting places close to home that are dedicated in their memory, the remaining members of the Dee family may be able to feel some sense of peace and the warm embrace of those they have lost.

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