Those We Have Lost

Eliyahu Orgad, 72: Grandfather who was ‘a true intellectual’

Murdered by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7

Eliyah Orgad (Courtesy)
Eliyah Orgad (Courtesy)

Eliyahu Orgad, 72, was murdered by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.

His body was identified on October 17 and he was buried a day later in Petah Tikva. He is survived by his daughter Ori and sons Nitzan and Avner, as well as several grandchildren.

Orgad was a volunteer with the Road to Recovery organization, through which he picked up Palestinian patients at border crossings with Gaza and drove them to and from Israeli hospitals for treatments.

Rivka Neria-Ben Shahar, a professor at Sapir College in Sderot, wrote in Ynet that Orgad used to audit her classes there despite not being a student.

“An unusually curious person, he came regularly to my classes on the Haredi community in Israel, and shared his opinions and knowledge with the students,” she wrote. Neria-Ben Shahar said she didn’t know his name at the time, and thought of him simply as “the old man,” who “accompanied me always outside after class… speaking to me next to the cold water cooler, walking me to my next class. He had suggestions on how to improve the situation, insights on how to recruit Haredim to the IDF, or how better to divide the state budget.”

Ariel Picard wrote on Facebook that he taught Orgad more than 20 years ago, and would regularly spot him at conferences and gatherings over the decades: “Eli was a true intellectual who looked for a path his whole life. I met him from time to time at Hartman Institute lectures and different conferences throughout the country. Eli was always there with youthful enthusiasm, grace and unusual wisdom.”

Educator Shmulik Faust said he would always encounter Orgad at gatherings he led of joint secular-religious study groups around Israel: “There wasn’t one meeting or lecture over decades at which I did not see the face of Eli — always with a thin smile. A quiet presence, smiling, eternal, a phenomenon.”

Eli’s son, Avner, wrote on Facebook that “our father had an incredible thirst for knowledge and endless curiousity.”

“In recent years, he was very interested in Judaism and took part in joint learning intiatives,” Avner added. “He believed in our common denominator, and always said that despite the disagreements, we have a shared destiny here. He was prepared to travel anywhere to meet people who thought differently than him, and he always returned to Kibbutz Kfar Aza, the place he loved so much, the best place in the world.”

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