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The Faith of Hadas Lowenstern

Her husband, Elisha, was killed on the seventh day of Hanukkah. Shortly after, Hadas began recording short videos that express remarkable faith.
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January 18, 2024
Hadas Lowenstern (YouTube screenshot)

My WhatsApp devoted to Israel burns up every day with news updates, uplifting photos, short videos, requests to donate money for a new need, and more. So many of these posts are unbelievably inspiring, and that brings me to Hadas Lowenstern. 

Her husband, Elisha, was killed on the seventh day of Hanukkah. Shortly after, Hadas began recording short videos that express remarkable faith. Interviews with her have followed, and I find her so moving that I decided to type up her comments from several of the videos. I’ve condensed and spliced her remarks for clarity and conciseness. There are many remarkable men and women throughout Israel whose courage, bravery, determination, and faith are helping to carry us through these times. Hadas Lowenstern is one of these women. 

Here is what she has to say:

Elisha was the love of my life. We spent 13 beautiful years together and have six children. Our eldest son will be bar mitzvah one week before Rosh Hashana. Our youngest is a 10-month-old daughter. We were so happy together had a wonderful life. My husband was a software engineer and big Torah scholar. He translated a Gemara Steinsaltz into English, tutored bar mitzvah boys, and was in charge of the shul schedule. He didn’t waste any time. He used an app to do interval exercise, and during the minute breaks between squats or sit ups he’d go to the table and learn mishnayot. 

When the news came on Oct. 7, we both said he had to go. We only had about a minute to talk two times in the first several weeks. He said he was very happy to fight for Am Yisrael. We were both happy and very confident. Elisha’s tank was the first one to enter the south of Gaza. When he drove his tank in to rescue soldiers who had gotten into a situation, they shot him.

When the soldiers knocked on my door on the last night of Hanukkah, I immediately knew. I called my children so they could also hear the news. I realized I did not know the laws of mourning, and I had to call the rabbi to advise us. The rabbi came over and we all cried. My son asked if he was still allowed to study Torah even though he was exempt during mourning. The rabbi looked at him and said, “This question shows you are truly Elisha’s son.” My nine-year-old daughter began to recite Psalm 100, a psalm of thanks to Hashem for all He does for us. We believe in it, even in the hardest moments of our lives. I am so proud of all my kids. The Lowenstern family all stood at the funeral and saluted Elisha. 

It’s hard. It’s hard. But we must continue this war. The Lowenstern family will not let Hamas win. Listen, Hamas, you can’t beat the Jewish people. Will you ever learn from Jewish history? You will finish like Pharoah. The sea will open and you will drown. We will continue to do chesed, sing Shabbat songs, and study Torah. Am Yisrael Chai.

My husband didn’t leave a parting letter (as the Army advises). He said he didn’t need to because he lived in a way that everyone knew how he felt. Every night he told me, “I love you. Thank you for marrying me.” Every night. When you do this day after day, it’s big. Don’t say, when I will have time I will make that call, write that letter, say I love you. Do it now. 

Elisha was the 405th soldier who died in this war (there are now more than 500). Few were in a position where their families could see them before burial. Thank God, Elisha was hit in his lower body, I could see his beautiful face. So many didn’t have anything to bury. 

Talking about his death is so insignificant in my eyes because he only died once but he lived every day. This was Hashem’s decision. We can’t change it, but we plan on living such a wonderful life the bad guys will never live such a life. We will live through the mitzvot, and this is the true victory. Hashem decides when you die, it can be at any age. The question is not how you die but how you live in this world. When my husband went up to heaven I know all the angels stood up and clapped and said, Kol Hakavod, look what you did. This gives me comfort. I have so much to be thankful for. I was the only woman in the world who had the merit to marry Elisha, and I have six kids. 

Jacob our forefather had a hard life, but when he met Esau, he told him, Yesh li kol — I have everything. I’ve learned these lessons from all our holy fathers and mothers. I named my first-born son after a man who was killed in Lebanon and someone already named their son Elisha, even before his shloshim.

Many times a day I find myself telling the kids when they ask me something, “You have to ask Abba.” They look at me (strangely) but I repeat, you really have to ask Abba. He would buy me a present every Rosh Chodesh. The other day it was Rosh Chodesh Shevat, and a friend knocked on my door and gave me a present for Rosh Chodesh. I looked up and said, “Thank you, Elisha.” Even from Heaven he remembers me.

We are all fighting, either in Gaza or in the hospital recovering, and the women and children left at home are fighting on the home front. I worked very hard not to complain when Elisha was in Gaza. When he asked, I said everything was okay. 

We are all fighting, either in Gaza or in the hospital recovering, and the women and children left at home are fighting on the home front. I worked very hard not to complain when Elisha was in Gaza. When he asked, I said everything was okay. 

Each of my children is a different person and each has their own way of coping. I know there is a long way ahead of us. Educating children is never easy, even with two parents. I will have to daven a lot. Two hours ago I looked up and said to Hashem, “Hello? Can you help me? I need to get everyone to sleep.” Tomorrow he will give me new strength. I’m not carrying anyone. Hashem is carrying everyone. I’m just sharing what makes me strong. This isn’t me or mine, these are things I learned from the Torah and my rabbi. 

Everyone wants to give us cakes. We don’t need any more cakes. We need bitachon (certainty that Hashem is in charge). If you thought you could just live in this world and be a Jew but not really understand what it means to be a Jew, it’s time to learn who you are and who we are. Our emuna (faith) and bitachon are the only things that will get us through this hard time.

This morning people from the army came and brought me his tefillin, tallit, personal belongings. I cried my eyes out. Then I looked at the watch and said, now it’s time for me to make lunch. That’s it. I’m going to make lunch for my kids today and that is my victory. I’m even going to make something my kids really like and I’m going to sit with them and eat. You took my husband but you’re not winning. I am the winner because I make lunch today and I will make lunch tomorrow and I will continue living and that is the true triumph.


Judy Gruen’s next memoir, “Bylines and Blessings: Overcoming Obstacles, Striving for Excellence, and Redefining Success,” will be published on Feb. 20. She is also a book editor and writing coach.

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