Chabad Journalist Shares Harrowing Simchas Torah Experience Near Gaza Border

Chabad reporter Shlomi Rizel, who celebrated Simchas Torah with his in-laws in Ofakim, shared his harrowing experience of being holed up in a tiny room as terrorists rampaged the city.

By reporter

Chabad reporter Shlomi Rizel, who lives in Lod, went to celebrate Simchas Torah at his father-in-law’s – the Rebbe’s Shliach and head of the Chabad community in Ofakim, Rabbi Yisrael Hershkowitz.

When 30 terrorists entered the city, near the Chabad house, and began to enter houses in the area, Rizel, his father-in-law, and several other sons-in-law locked the house and sealed its main entrance with improvised barriers. In fear of terrorists entering the house, they managed to get shovels as means of protection.

“It is a one-story house, and since the central window has no barriers, we were afraid that the terrorists would notice us and carry out a massacre. We felt like Jews in Ukraine looking for a hiding place from the Cossacks,” he said.

“We came here to celebrate the holiday with my in-laws after their son Shimi Hershkowitz passed away from yene machla on Erev Rosh Hashanah, which was a shock to the whole family. At least we were together with them in these difficult moments…” Shlomi says.

The family, with other residents of Ofakim were under siege in their house for over 65 hours after the outbreak of the war, as the security forces did not allow the residents to leave their homes for fear of more terrorists. Unfortunately, more than 10 of the city’s residents were murdered by the terrorists, including a couple who regularly pray in the Chabad house, and were murdered nearby it.

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