Life can change irrevocably in the space of just one minute. David Rubin understands this in a way that most of us do not. In one fateful minute, as bullets flew at his car, his life, his child’s life and all his dreams seemed on the brink of collapse…
Rubin was born and raised in New York. He grew up in a semi-traditional Jewish family and attended public school. An avid reader, by his mid-20s, David had started taking an interest in Israel and the Jewish claim to the land. This Zionist flame sparked his connection to Judaism.
His growing desire to defend the land and promote its growth prompted his wish to live in Judea or Samaria. It was clear to him that these places are vital to Israel’s survival. He wanted to be part of building up these integral areas of the Land whilst breathing in the mountain air.
David made aliyah, moved to Jerusalem and later made his home in the historic biblical city of Shiloh, where he was elected mayor for a two-year term.
Soon after, in late 2001, that fateful minute struck.
Driving home to Shiloh from Jerusalem, David’s passenger was his three year old baby son in the back seat. David remembers that he was halfway home when the car was ambushed by terrorists.
“They were on the side of the road with AK47 assault rifles and they were shooting at my car. What do they want? What are they shooting at me?!”
It was purely a random act of inhumanity, senselessly committed in order to terrorise the local Jewish inhabitants and discourage expansion of the area.
The car stalled. It seemed completely dead. They were trapped.
Bullets rained down on the motionless car. Horrified, David could see his son had been shot in the head. Everything seemed hopeless. Despite blood pouring from a serious leg wound, David desperately tried to restart the car in order to drive to safety. But the car just wouldn’t start, and the barrage of bullets continued.
And then, a miracle!
“Suddenly, the car started as if it hadn’t had a problem at all,” David recalls.
“On the day I cried you answered me, You emboldened me, there is strength in my soul.” (Psalms 138: 3)
Heart pounding, David managed to speed away. Increasingly weak from blood loss, David finally reached to safety and both he and his son were taken to the hospital.
“My poor little boy was shot! He couldn’t move! Will he survive? Will we get through this?!”
Miraculously, David and his little boy survived. The surgeons were amazed; the bullet that had hit his son had penetrated his head and passed through his neck, missing the brainstem by just 1mm. Not even the doctors could deny feeling the Divine Presence intervening in this tragedy!
Thankfully, this terror attack ended well. Physical wounds heal over time, but David found the psychological trauma harder to overcome.
The high number of terror-related incidents in the region at the time, meant that the suffering David’s family endured was shared by many. Hundreds had seen their loved ones hurt. Hundreds had suffered direct injuries. Hundreds of children in the area had lost friends, family and parents at the hands of terrorists.
Emotional wounds resulting from these incidents are harder to diagnose and can take longer to heal than physical injuries. David explains, “we have a belief in Judaism that ‘everything is for the good’…Something good is supposed to come out of every traumatic experience”.
David searched hard for the good that could come from his experience. And so, the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund was born. From the darkest depths of pain, came renewed purpose and hope.
“You have transformed my sorrow into dance. You undid my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” (Psalms 30:12)
David had a vision. He wanted to build up an organization supporting children to overcome trauma after acts of terrorism. Ceaseless fundraising, campaigning, help from the Israeli government and support from generous donors brought his vision of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund to life.
An existing, small and informal program in a local school was transformed and redeveloped. Today, therapeutic and educational programs run on this main campus which boasts a formal therapy center. The schools on the campus also have access to informal therapy opportunities on-site including a petting zoo, music playground and studio.
The Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund have built playgrounds across the region and help support youth programs and summer camps. These programs imbue children with a deep-rooted love of Israel and its connection to the Bible.
The entire focus of the organization is to try to restore children’s lost innocence. They currently serve over 3000 children in the area, aiming to embody the prophetic words of Zechariah 8:5:
“The streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing.”
David is determined to transform his personal suffering into a vehicle for doing good. It has become his life’s work to help reverse the long-term effects of terror and enable children to flourish.
David’s ordeal became a springboard for his own development. He has become a world-renowned author, political commentator and eloquent advocate for Israel in the media.
“Building up Judea and Samaria is integral to the survival of Israel as a country. These areas are vital – geographically, socially and militarily.”
Their central location places them at the heart of Israel as they are equidistant from the Jordan river and Mediterranean Sea. In terms of topography, the region sits atop mountainous vantage points. It is of fundamental importance that there is a Jewish stronghold and presence here to help protect and secure the rest of the country.
“Ben Gurion International Airport would be at the mercy of terrorists if they were allowed to control the Samarian hills. Without a strong presence in the area, terrorists could lob missiles at the airport and potentially hit their target every time.”
David explains that the population living in Judea and Samaria have one of the fastest growing birth rates in Israel. Living in and developing the region provides the opportunity to raise happy families surrounded by nature, away from over-populated concrete cities.
Watch this short clip where David discusses his response to the attack:
David’s story is one of hope and triumph in the face of near-certain death. He continues to use his harrowing ordeal to bring hope to the lives of many.
(Jenny Mays participated in writing this article.)