I was reading through Adloyada's account of an uplifting Shabbat with a family of her relatives in Shiloh when I suddenly thought, 'this is sounding really familiar.' And indeed, it turned out she was talking about the Apter family, whose son, Noam, was killed in a terrorist attack on Otniel three years ago. He was one of four boys in the kitchen of the settlement's yeshivah, helping to prepare a meal for the students in the hall, when terrorists entered the kitchen and started shooting. However, the terrorists never got into the hall because the door between the kitchen and the hall was locked. After the event, from the evidence, many people drew the conclusion that Noam, understanding what was at stake (I think already wounded?), had been the person who had locked the door in order to save the students in the hall -- although the exact truth may never be known. If it is true, one of the people whose lives he saved was my brother's, who was one of the students in the hall (the majority of the boys in the room were actually a visiting group from Gush) -- and who, I should point out, also acted heroically by trying to get back into the hall to fight and later helping evacuate some of the wounded.
At the time, I wrote a profile of Noam Apter for the Jerusalem Post (which I can't find online any more, except for pay) and was already then impressed by what an unusual young man he must have been (regardless of what happened that evening), and what a special family he must have come from.
Still, losing a son can break even the strongest family. Adloyada's account of this loving and close-knit family three years on, then -- with 38 (!) youngsters turning up after Friday night dinner -- is a must-read. Whilst they were clearly special beforehand, they are even more of an inspiration today. Read her touching account here.