PHOTOS & VIDEOS: Special Children’s Center Parents Inspired by October 7th Survivor Who Found The Yad Hashem Amidst Tragedy

On Wednesday evening, a crowd of Special Children’s Center Parents gathered for a Parents Night of inspiration.

As part of their commitment to the entire family of a special needs child, the Special Children’s Center regularly hosts Parents Nights in the Center’s beautiful home on Prospect Street. These events are a great way to strengthen the connection between the parents and the Center, and to provide healthy doses of chizuk for all in attendance.

At Wednesday evening’s Parents Night, the parents heard the first-hand account of Roi Assaraf, a survivor of the October 7th terror attack, who shared his miraculous story and subsequent journey to full teshuva.

The evening began with introductory remarks by Yaakov Shwekey, husband of Special Children’s Center founder, Jenine Shwekey, who also movingly sang the very appropriate song “Vehi She’amda.”

They then were privileged to be addressed by the Rosh Hayesiva of Bais Medrash Govoha, Rav Yeruchim Olshin shlita, who delivered warm divrei bracha.

As a grandparent of a Special Children’s Center child, Rav Yeruchim expressed his gratitude to the founders, directors and staff, who provide so much love and care every day for the special children and their families.

In his moving remarks, the Rosh Hayeshiva quoted the Chofetz Chaim’s words in Sefer Ahavas Chesed that during a time of middas hadin, when Klal Yisroel faces much pain and suffering, it is incumbent upon us to increase the amount of chesed we do for others. It is stated in the Pesikta that the Jewish people were redeemed from Mitzrayim in the merit of uniting together as one to daven and by forging a bris to do chesed to each other. We learn from this that doing acts of chesed is a means to receive Hashem’s great chesed and merit geulah from a time of suffering.

He concluded, “The chesed done in the Special Children’s Center is truly amazing. They have a magic touch and the children love it. B’ezer Hashem, if we all take their example and increase our chesed, we will be taken out of this time of tzarah b’meheira b’yameinu.”

During the evening, many parents took the opportunity to greet and speak with the Rosh Hayeshiva personally and obtain his warm bracha.

Roi then told his story. Although he spoke in a soft, calm voice, his words had a powerful effect on the crowd, and tears flowed from many eyes as he shared his miraculous tale of survival.

He said that he is a lifelong resident of Yerushalaim and worked as a barber. He was raised completely secular and covered his body in tattoos. He was married several years ago to his wife, Yona, and quickly had two girls. With two babies at home, life was very hectic, and he and his wife were happy to take a night off to attend the Nova Music Festival. They went with two friends, and arrived on Shabbos morning at 6am.

As he arrived at the concert, he started to film and he noticed two dark clouds in the sky. When he zoomed in, he could see that they were missiles headed their way. A guard ran on stage and said that there was a Code Red and everyone who could should leave as soon as possible. He and his wife ran to the parking lot, which was a scene of chaos, with many people running back and forth. He texted his two friends to meet him at the exit of the lot, and they did.

Most of the cars were unsure where to go because Waze was directing them in a direction that the police were telling them not go, but he said that he heard a voice telling him, “Drive straight and don’t stop.”

He kept driving and a few moments later, he saw the first batch of terrorists arrive in Jeeps and begin to shoot at the crowd. They shot at his car, but he pushed down his wife, lowered his head, and hit the gas while spontaneously screaming “Shema Yisroel…”

Miraculously, all of the bullets missed his car.

He kept driving in shock until he came to an army outpost. His friends urged him to stop there and seek shelter with the soldiers, but the voice in his head told him to keep driving, and he passed the outpost. He later learned that terrorists had already taken over that base and were waiting to kill anyone who entered.

Finally, he made it to Beer Sheva, where a rocket landed right near his car when he stopped by a gas station to fill up.

He arrived home at 11am on Shabbos. He later learned that 13 of his very good friends had been murdered at the music festival.

For the next week, he was completely traumatized and was unable to eat or sleep. He asked his wife, “Why did Hashem decide that we should live while so many others died?”

Right then and there they decided to become Shomer Shabbos, and they have been so for the past four months. He then accepted to start wearing tzitzis. After several weeks, he started going to shul every week, and his wife began to cover her hair. He also accepted that once he reopens his hair salon, he will only cut men’s hair from now on.

“My kesher with Hashem became so strong that I decided that whatever path He has prepared for me is the one that I am going to follow,” he declared.

He also wrote down his own experience, as well as the stories of 80 others who survived through incredible miracles in order to provide chizuk for others. The book is ready for print, but he has decided that he will only publish it after all of the hostages are returned home safe and sound, so that their stories can be published as well.

At the end of the event, the parents were able to speak personally with Roi and derive chizuk from his effusive emunah and yearning to serve Hashem as best he can.

The crowd went away extremely inspired by Roi’s story and with a renewed hischazkus to daven and do chesed as a zechus for acheinu bnei Yisroel.

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