SA olah grieves friend killed in Jerusalem attack
A South African olah is mourning the loss of her dear friend, Rose Lubin (20), who was stabbed outside Jerusalem’s Old City while on duty as a border police officer on 6 November. Lubin made aliya from Atlanta, Georgia, in August 2021, and was drafted to the police in March 2022.
At her funeral, a member of Lubin’s border police unit lauded Lubin’s bravery, saying she “fought like a lioness”, preventing a “bigger terror attack”. Lubin also defended her home, Kibbutz Saad, on 7 October from the Hamas terrorist attack.
“Rose and I first met on a Zoom call for new olim,” says South African olah, Noa*. “I remember seeing Rose and her colourful hair. It really stood out to me. I then remember hearing her speak, and she started off with ‘Hey y’all’ in a strong southern accent. It was a shock to hear that a small girl like Rose, with such a sweet personality and colours in her hair, was a state champion wrestler and was in fact planning on drafting to Magav [the border police] in order to protect Yerushalayim.
“But looking at it now, there was no doubt that that is where she would draft to, because after living with her and becoming close to her it became clear that this five-foot-tall girl was in fact one of the strongest people, mentally and physically,” says Noa. “She was determined and committed to staying fit. She was always the one to motivate all of us to get up, stop being lazy, and join her in a workout. I was always in awe of her commitment.” The two lived together on Kibbutz Saad until March 2023.
“Rose was also one of those people that anyone could talk to,” says Noa. “You felt comfortable in her presence straight away. She always knew the right things to say. She was the best listener. You could complain to her and somehow, she would change your perspective and make you see the good. She was truly a gift to this world.”
Lubin was one of the only people from their garin (olim group) of 22 to still live on a kibbutz. “She had a special bond with her host family, and a unique connection to the kibbutz,” says Noa. “Rose chose to spend Simchat Torah in her home on Kibbutz Saad. On the morning of 7 October, when it was clear that terrorists had infiltrated into Israel, she didn’t think twice.
“She quickly got into her uniform, took her weapon, and went straight to the gate of the kibbutz where she fiercely defended it for hours. I spoke to her on the morning of 7 October, to check that she was safe. When she told me she had joined the security forces, my nerves calmed. Rose had a way of making everything okay. I trusted her. With her there, I knew that the kibbutz would be okay.
“After guarding the kibbutz for hours, Rose was picked up and taken back to her base in Jerusalem. She had a love for the city,” says Noa. “As she said, ‘generations dreamed of arriving in Jerusalem, and we have the privilege of defending her’. From the day she drafted to the Magav, she knew that she wanted to guard Jerusalem. Her service didn’t come without challenges. But she never complained, no matter how emotionally and physically draining it was. She started and ended each day with a smile.
“However, last Monday, she didn’t get to end her day with a smile. While Rose was standing duty in Jerusalem, a 16-year-old terrorist from East Jerusalem came up to her and stabbed her. A 16-year-old who left his house that morning with one goal – to kill a soldier. A 16-year-old whose parents are now proud of him.” The 16-year-old assailant was shot dead at the scene.
An investigation has since found “serious disciplinary and operational failure” in the circumstances surrounding Lubin’s death, according to Israeli media. Reports indicate an officer went to buy food while on duty, leaving Lubin exposed.
“Whenever there were terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Rose would always send a message to our garin group chat telling us that she was okay and that we must stay safe. On the Monday of the attack, we didn’t receive any message. Instead, we were told to pray because the person in critical condition was our Rose.
“I quickly organised a lift to the hospital she was going to because there was no doubt in my mind or that of the whole garin that we were going to be by her bedside while she recovered,” says Noa. “Maybe I was being naïve, but the thought of her dying didn’t cross my mind because it was Rose. If anyone was going come out of this it would be Rose because she was healthy, she was strong, and how could something so terrible happen to such a precious person? Upon receiving the news that she was no longer with us, we all dropped to the floor in disbelief. In fact, we still are [in this state]. We can’t believe that this colourful and lively person has been taken from us.”
She says her friend “made an impact on every person she met. She had a desire not only to protect, but also to help. When she was younger, she volunteered with kids who were sick, and although it was an hour away from her house, she made sure to be there. Rose had many talents, one of which was singing. Her voice used to echo through our house as she sang to herself. She’s someone we can learn so much from: how to be patient, how to be welcoming and warm, how to be positive, and how to treat everyone with respect.
“Rose wanted so many things for Israel,” she says. “She had so many dreams, one of which was living in a house on the Kinneret with kids and horses. She just wanted peace for Israel, even if that meant she had to be the one protecting it. She dreamed of being the head of fitness in the Israel Defense Forces, and had so many plans for the army to make it better.”
Describing Lubin’s funeral, she says, “It was a hectic day filled with tears. Am Yisrael really showed up – there were more than 4 000 people. It was a sad day for everyone – the whole country. It still doesn’t feel real, even a week afterwards.”
*Noa isn’t her real name. Name changed to protect her.