Those We Have Lost

Reuven Heinik, 56: Dairy farmer wouldn’t abandon his cows

Killed at the dairy farm in Kibbutz Kissufim on October 9

Reuven Heinik (Courtesy)
Reuven Heinik (Courtesy)

Reuven Heinik, 56, of Ashkelon, was murdered by Hamas terrorists at the dairy farm in Kibbutz Kissufim on October 9.

According to the Walla news site, Heinik, the longtime manager of the kibbutz’s dairy, set out for Kissufim two days after the start of the Hamas onslaught to tend to the cows.

His family and friends begged him not to go, but he refused to leave the cows without care. He was shot dead by a terrorist who had been hiding out inside the barn.

He is survived by his wife, Dorit, and their three daughters, Adi, Netta and Yuval, as well as his parents, Yossi and Gaby. He was buried in Ashkelon on October 18.

Kissufim’s chairman, Gavri Bar-Gil, told Walla that the kibbutz was sealed off as a closed military zone amid the attack but Heinik “asked to go to the barn to feed the cows and give them water and try to milk them,” and received approval from the IDF. “Reuven showed devotion to his mission and fulfilled the most basic principles of Zionism and agriculture. He said he couldn’t leave the cows without food and water.”

Heinik “was a central figure in Kissufim. A beloved man, smiling and optimistic, a first-rate professional who was well known in the dairy industry in Israel,” added Bar-Gil.

A eulogy from the Israeli Cattle Breeders’ Association noted that before starting work in Kissufim around 15 years ago, Heinik managed the teaching dairy farm at Kfar Silver and educated generations of future dairy farmers.

“Everyone who spoke about him mentioned immediately his big smile, his good heart and his great love for dairy farming,” the eulogy noted.

His childhood friend, Avi Am Shalem, noted that they played soccer together in their youth, and remained close for decades, flying together every year since 1997 for a ski vacation: “Reuven was a true friend, a smiling guy, a real person, who loved bike trips, jeep tours, he was my best friend, we met every day.”

Being a dairy farmer, Am Shalem noted, “was his life’s work, he really loved the work, the cowshed and of course the kibbutz.”

His sister, Chani, told a local Ashkelon memorial site that “Reuven was a man of love! From his love for music, singing and playing, to his love for his family and his dedication to his loved ones and friends. He was a man of nature, trips and adventures, he loved the land of Israel and traveled and got to know every corner of it. Reuven loved life and knew how to live it at full power. He had a certain magic and a contagious joy for life.”

Four months after he was killed, the kibbutz held a cornerstone-laying ceremony to establish a new dairy farm after the existing one was destroyed in an ensuing firefight.

“Our dear Reuven died in the place he loved the most, in the dairy farm which was his life’s work,” his wife, Dorit, said at the ceremony, according to Ynet. “We feared for his life, and to our great sadness he paid with his life for his dedication to the barn and the cows.”

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