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Horror, heartlessness of Perez’s death leaves me reeling

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A few weeks ago, I met Rabbi Doron Perez in Israel. I managed to catch up with him after he shared the experience of his family since 7 October. After giving me his signature hug, he asked me about my family and how everyone was managing. He even remembered some details about my children that I had likely forgotten. The conversation didn’t give away the agony he was in.

His demeanour, however, did. The effort to take himself out of his own situation and focus on someone else’s was impressive. But it was also a strain. And it showed.

I left wondering how he, his wife Shelley, and their family managed to put one foot in front of the other to get through the day, not knowing how their son, Daniel, was doing as a hostage in Gaza.

According to Perez, the agony of not knowing if he was cold, if he had enough food, and how he was being treated was the torture. As was the knowledge that as a young man in service to the Israel Defense Forces, Daniel would be the very last on the list when it came to any form of hostage deal.

I didn’t leave feeling hopeful.

And yet, when news of his passing was made public on Sunday evening, 17 March, along with all those who heard it, I was devastated, sad, horrified, and angry. I still am. Although I have a rule not to respond on social media or write when feeling this way, I have made an exception. Because I’m not confident that this feeling will abate soon.

Hamas murdered Daniel on 7 October. They had dragged his lifeless body across the border to Gaza, where they held it. His family couldn’t know this, and instead of dealing with the horror of his loss, were tormented and tortured by what could have been happening to him. The cruelty is hard to imagine. And yet, if we look at all that happened on 7 October and all that followed, this should come as no surprise.

The loss of Daniel Perez, a beautiful young man of 22, is devastating. And although we cannot imagine or compare it to the agony of his family, it has had a profound impact on so many of us.

Where ordinarily I would do what I need to do to rid myself of anger, in this case, I’m making an exception. Not only am I writing with that emotion, but I intend to hold onto it for a while and not placate myself into “being OK”. Because I’m not. And because none of us are. And because I’m not sure when or if we will be.

May Daniel’s memory be for a blessing. And may his family know no more sorrow.

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  1. Lionel and Louise Ruben

    Mar 20, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    Absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. Long life to the Perez family for the loss of their brave and beautiful son captain Daniel Perez

  2. Wendy Kaplan Weil

    Mar 20, 2024 at 12:58 pm

    Beautiful well said and expresssd article

  3. Leora Blau

    Mar 20, 2024 at 2:46 pm

    So well expressed. That’s how we feel here in Israel. We will never be OK or secure again. Baruch dayan Haemet. Condolences to the family. Am Israel Chai.

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