Israeli police catrry the coffin of Druze policeman Zidan Seif. (Photo: Flash90) (Photo: Flash90)

Thousands of Israelis from different walks of life attended the funeral of Druze officer Zidan Saif, who was killed fighting terrorists at a Jerusalem synagogue.

Israelis across the country felt a second slap in the face Tuesday evening as news broke of yet another senseless death. This time it was not one of the worshipers who were in the Jerusalem synagogue when the massacre occurred that morning, but rather Israel’s heroic first responder, who succumbed to wounds sustained while attempting to subdue the terrorists.

The fifth victim of the terrorist attack, Zidan Saif was a Druze police officer from the town of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee.  He was a dedicated police officer who didn’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to save others. His heroism, punctuated by the fact that he was not Jewish, was not lost on the Jewish citizens of Israel.

The Jewish Community Responds

Even before his death, Jewish Facebook timelines were buzzing with pictures of Saif holding his young daughter, accompanied by requests to pray for his healing as he fought for his life in the hospital. As news emerged of Saif’s passing, the Jewish community expressed its grief over yet another premature loss of life.  This included members of the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community, which didn’t hesitate for a moment – they rallied together, on the heels of burying four of their own earlier in the day, to express appreciation for his sacrifice.

In order to assure that as many people as possible would be able to attend, members of the religious community began arranging transportation for those who needed it. With the help of anonymous donors, buses were chartered to transport people from Jerusalem to the funeral, which was held in the Galilee.

Righteous Among the Nations

“This policeman had so much courage. He lives in this country and he was not of the Jewish people, but he put his life on the line for us and sacrificed himself for us,” commented Ariella Sternbach, one of the coordinators.


Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar (R) shakes hands with an Imam as leaders from religious communities show support for families of victims outside a Jerusalem synagogue. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In order to emphasize Saif’s heroism and the importance of all Jews to recognize his sacrifice, community leaders referred to a psak halakha (religious ruling) issued by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi and Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, which would apply in this case.

The ruling states: “A Druze soldier on duty who defended Israel against its enemy… and was killed at the hands of the Ishmaelites (Arabs), for the sake of guarding the security of Israel, it is correct to recite for him hashkava [a Jewish prayer for the dead] in the synagogue for his soul.”

“The Druze believe in One God, and do not worship idols at all,” the ruling continues, noting that the Druze religion is a monotheistic faith. “Not only that, but they enlist into the Israel Defense Force and sacrifice their lives in defense of the citizens of the State of Israel, and they observe the Seven Noahide Laws,” Rabbi Yosef wrote, classifying them as among the “Righteous Among the Nations.”

United with Israel joins with the entire nation in expressing its condolences to the Saif family and community.

Terrorism in Israel affects all of Israel’s citizens – Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Please share your reflections and condolences in the comments section below.

Author: Penina Taylor, United with Israel