Those We Have Lost

Naomi Shitrit Azulay, 52: Personal trainer and one of 10 siblings

Murdered by Hamas while out running in Sderot on October 7

Naomi Shitrit Azulay (Courtesy)
Naomi Shitrit Azulay (Courtesy)

Naomi Shitrit Azulay, 52, from Sderot, was murdered by Hamas terrorists while out running the morning of October 7 near the city.

She set out early that day with two other running friends, Kobi Paryante and Ram Hayoun. Naomi and Kobi were slain and Ram was wounded but survived.

More than a month later, Ram told Maariv that when the rocket sirens started, they joked around but found a place to shelter. They quickly realized that terrorists were roaming around and shooting people, and hid on the side of the road in fear. After five hours, an army vehicle finally arrived and they thought they had been saved — but the soldiers said it wasn’t safe yet to move them out of the area.

Half an hour later, Ram said, “Another terrorist cell arrived and another shoot out began, this time two soldiers [Staff Sgt. Ilay Gamzo and Staff Sgt. Itay-Eliyahu Marchiano] were killed, Kobi and Naomi were murdered, another soldier was wounded and I was wounded… I was covered in blood and the terrorists assumed I was dead.”

Ram said their running group, which also included Lior Waitzman, who was murdered while out biking, “is really a family. When we met at the funerals and headstone settings there were the blood relatives and then the running group ‘family.'”

Naomi was buried on October 9 in Sderot. She is survived by her husband Yuval and their three children, Ofek, 26, Tal, 23 and Shahar, 19, as well as her nine siblings.

Naomi was a personal trainer and ran a gym in Netivot, as well as worked at a dentist’s clinic.

Her sister, Yaffa, wrote in Israel Hayom to “my beloved sister, Naomi. She had a captivating smile that lit up her face, everyone who met her fell in love. She left her mark everywhere she went. She had in her a true and pure love for every person, a unique sensitivity to the weaker elements of society. She was a significant figure in the clinic, the gym, and at home, which was her fortress. We will never forget.”

Her son, Ofek Shitrit, told Radio Darom, “I could speak for hours about who my mother was and what she meant to me, but what I want people to most remember of her was that she was full of joy for life, smiled at everyone, everyone who lived in Sderot and Netivot — where she worked — knew her… If she could see us now sitting here and crying over her, she would lift us up and start to dance.”

Her husband, Yuval, told La’Isha magazine that “running was her great love. She only started to work out at age 47, but since — she got completely addicted and exercised with her running group at least three times a week.”

“Naomi was a wonderful person,” he wrote. “Hardworking, dedicated, a supportive wife, warrior mother, incredible friend, always happy with a captivating smile. Whenever she would enter a room, it would immediately light up.”

Marking a month since she was killed, her daughter, Tal, wrote on Facebook to “my dear mother, my role model, my whole world. How can I speak about you in the past tense?”

“You had so many more dreams to achieve, even though you didn’t rest for a second and took advantage of every moment, you still had so many other things in mind,” she wrote. “It wasn’t your time to go — and certainly not this way!”

“If I didn’t tell you enough, know that I loved you unconditionally!” Tal continued. “Love that hurts in my bones… You were the best mother a child could ask for.”

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here.

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