- Monday, June 17, 2024

“I will never forget this day.”

Like thousands of people in southern Israel, Shuki Yosef will always carry with him the trauma of living through — and surviving — the Oct. 7, 2023 attacks. But, thanks to this elderly Jewish man’s quick thinking, eight other Israelis are also alive today. Shuki shares his story as well as how he and others plan to keep on living and keep on rejoicing, in Israel, thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and our faithful supporters. This is his story.

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The days before October 7th were quiet and happy days. The night before I was in the synagogue, and I prayed as I do every Friday night. 

I planned on going to the synagogue on Saturday morning, but the alarm woke me up early. We heard the alarm and entered the bomb shelter. After about 10 minutes I went outside because I thought it was all over. 

Suddenly I heard something that sounded like gunshots. 

I asked the people outside, “What is this?” One of the neighbors said that it must be fireworks for the holiday, but I immediately said that it couldn’t be fireworks so early in the morning. After a short while I noticed people with guns running towards our buildings. 

Before I could understand what was happening, they opened fire. 

My sukkah (temporary hut constructed for Sukkot) which was still at the entrance to the building saved us because we could hide behind it, and then I ran to the bomb shelter. There were eight people with me. I closed the door and held it, and tried to hear what was happening outside. 

A short time later, the terrorists entered the building and tried to open the door of the bomb shelter. They shouted, “Allah Akbar (God is Great), cursed Jews, we are going to kill you” and they tried to break in. 

I told all the people who were with me in the shelter to be quiet and not say a word. I saw that there was a bicycle frame by the door. I took it and used it to block the door handle of the shelter so that the terrorists could not open the door. I kept holding the handle for five hours and 45 minutes! All this time I did not let go of the door handle. 

They tried to shoot at the door, but they were unable to break in. I kept whispering the Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel) prayer to myself in my heart, and I prayed that they wouldn’t be able to get inside. They really didn’t succeed. That’s how we were in the shelter for hours until the IDF came to save us.

I lost my close friend who was murdered by the terrorists before he could enter the shelter. Many people were killed here in our neighborhood. I don’t want to think what would have happened if the terrorists had managed to enter the shelter.

In closing, I want to say that I hope that next year we will be able to celebrate Simchat Torah here in the city. We will do a double celebration to remember all the people who were killed and say “Am Yisrael Chai (The Nation of Israel Lives)!”

Read more Faces of Iron stories and learn how The Fellowship is helping survivors of October 7.

Author’s Note:

In the difficult days and months since the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7, 2023 plunged Israel and her people into the Swords of Iron War, there has been so much pain and so much sadness. But thanks to the prayers and support of those around the world who continue to stand with Israel and the Jewish people in their time of greatest need, these survivors — these Faces of Iron — continue, strong and faithful. This series highlights their devastatingly heroic and inspiring stories, in their own words.

About the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews: For more than 40 years, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) has been the leading non-profit building bridges between Christians and Jews, blessing Israel and the Jewish people around the world with humanitarian care and lifesaving aid. Each year, the Fellowship helps over 1 million people living in poverty, provides security to 1 million people and helps thousands make aliyah back to their homeland, Israel. To learn more, visit www.ifcj.org.

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