The Torah study hall in Itamar is a prefabricated building: utilitarian, cold, harshly lit, and casually situated on a rocky incline exposed to the elements. In the front of the hall is "Rabbi Udi's" usual table, which on Sunday turned into a memorial to Udi Fogel.
Fogel had prayed right here with his students on Friday night, and was murdered in his home with his wife Ruti and three of their children several hours later.
Fogel's students gathered around the table, but did not touch it, were careful to leave the table as they found it: a prayer book, a tractate of the Talmud, a book of Jewish ethics, books of Rabbi Kook, the Book of the Khazars, a Torah, and others. A hand-written note left on the table contained rabbinical commentary he intended to teach.
If someone is expecting a revenge attack or "price tag" – they won't find it here, at the yeshiva where Fogel taught, whose chief rabbi is Avihai Ronski, the former IDF Chief Rabbi.
"These people don't go out and demonstrate, that's not their style," says Yohanan Goldin, a 24-year-old sixth-year yeshiva student. Goldin was close to Fogel, and was part of the community security team that was called in to find that Fogel was killed.
A day and a half after the attack, Goldin feels the need to improve the public image of the community, and perhaps the yeshiva, as well. "'Price tags" are not the way of the yeshiva," he said.
Goldin's friend, fifth-year yeshiva student Itamar Brooker, says, "Anger does not interest us, people aren't hung up on that. There is pain, there is shock, but not anger. Personally, I still haven’t taken it in. A family has been stabbed to death, it will take time to register."
Brooker says, "Normal people don't go to demonstrations. These people are delegitimized, even demonized, especially those living on the hilltop, as if they are extremists."
"People who know us ask us why we've come to study with all the crazies, but that's rubbish. There is an extremist group in the area, they are reactionary, and their photographs are always printed in the papers," Brooker adds. "But understand: 'price tag,' demonstrations, it's not even a part of our lexicon. Never has been, never will be."
So what is part of the community's lexicon, the yeshiva's lexicon? Rabbi Ronski talked with his students about celebrating the holiday of Purim in a week. On the gate at the entrance to the community they hung signs: '26 years and 22 killed, but the youth of Itamar cannot be broken'.
In the evening, after the funeral, the residents gathered for a meeting. Pinchas Michaeli, the village youth coordinator, told Haaretz about children that are not willing to sleep in their own beds since the attack.
Michaeli adds, "The youth want to act, express themselves. We want to channel it into positive directions." Are these mere declarations? No, Michaeli responds. In Itamar, they are now talking about building a new neighborhood in memory of those murdered.
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