Those we have lost

Moshe Ohayon, 52: Social activist, CEO of 929 Torah project

Described by 929 founder Rabbi Benny Lau as ‘the essence of good,’ Ohayon, was murdered with his eldest son Eliad; also chaired board of Shaharit Institute

Moshe Oyahon. (Courtesy of the family)
Moshe Oyahon. (Courtesy of the family)

Social activist Moshe Ohayon was killed alongside his son Eliad while defending their hometown of Ofakim from a Hamas terrorist onslaught on October 7.

Some 14 gunmen drove into the city in two trucks on that morning, according to the mayor, Itzik Danino, as terrorists fanned out to kibbutzim, moshavim and towns throughout the Gaza border area on a massive killing spree.

The Ohayons were among around 50 residents who were killed while defending their hometown, armed with knives, a few handguns and eventually the terrorists’ own weapons.

Moshe Ohayon, 52, chaired the board of the Shaharit Institute, which works to bring Israelis from diverse ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic groups together.

He was also the CEO of Project 929, a popular initiative to make the Torah accessible, by providing daily chapters of the Bible, along with interesting information, brief explanations, video clips, pictures, and narration for those who prefer to listen.

He was a prominent social activist in Ofakim, where he had lived for two decades. His son Eliad, 23, also volunteered for not-for-profit social organizations.

Eliad Ohayon. (Courtesy of the family)

Dr. Eilon Schwartz, who heads the Shaharit Institute, recalled that Ohayon had invited him to his succah on October 5 to give a lesson at an event entitled “Learning and listening together,” at which Rabbi Avi Giser, one of the founders of the Zohar rabbinical organization, also spoke. The program brings two people with different social, cultural, religious, and/or political views taught together.

“Moshe was radiant at the event,” Schwartz wrote. “There were about 50 to 60 people there, and Moshe was filled with joy that some of his colleagues and closest friends had traveled to Ofakim to join him and his community.”

Schwartz went on, “On Saturday morning, which was the holiday of Simchat Torah, Moshe and his son Eliad were murdered. He [Moshe] heard gunshots in the neighborhood, and ran out of the house with Eliad, gun in hand.”

“When we heard the story, we all smiled through our tears and said, ‘That was Moshe, the first one out the door. Always in front.'”

The two men’s bodies were not found until late Sunday afternoon.

Orna Angel, a well-known architect and activist, posted on Facebook on October 14 that it had taken her days to be able to write something about Ohayon.

The two worked together for several years at the Mandel Northern Leadership Center.

“We became friends right away, and we knew that no political opinions, kippot on the head, or shrimps on Shabbat, could overcome the love we both felt for our country, the desire for it to be better here.”

She went on, “Your family came above all else…And when I heard that you fought like a lion, with your oldest son Eliad, through the sorrow and the immense pain, I smiled — you and your beloved Eliad. Moshe Ohayon, I will never forget you.”

Rabbi Benny Lau, who created 929, described Ohayon as “the essence of good.”

The last thing Ohayon did was to have 250 temporary dwellings used on the holiday of Sukkot erected all over Israel where people of different backgrounds and views could come together and talk, he said.

Moshe Ohayon is survived by his parents, his wife, Sarit, and his four surviving children, Amitai, Yair, Shira and Uri.

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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