While the Second Lebanon War raged last summer, Itzik Ben-Chaim was leaving a local school in Safed when he heard a Katyusha rocket – fired from a Hizbullah position across the border in southern Lebanon – fly overhead. A few moments after the sound of the explosion subsided, a shout for help emerged: "Save my hand!"

The rocket had struck the car of Michoel Fuks, the explosion severing his hand. Today, Fuks says he has no memories of the event.

"It's a miracle that I don't remember," Fuks says. "My physical wounds could have also been accompanied by the very deep emotional wounds of the memory of being hit by the rocket."

Ben-Chaim says what he saw was gruesome.

"What I saw was a body covered in blood," he relates. "Then I saw the guy's shoulder and a stream of blood pouring onto the street. I thought he was dead. But, when I checked, he was breathing."

With doubts as to Fuks' ultimate chances of survival, Ben-Chaim fetched Dovid Weitzman, the school's principal, and brought him to the scene. Weitzman, who is trained in first aid, worked to stop the bleeding; Ben-Chaim called an ambulance.

Reflecting, Weitzman says that "no one believed that rockets from Lebanon could fall in Safed. We were not prepared physically or mentally."

Upon his arrival to Ziv Hospital, surgeons immediately tended to Fuks' arm. Hospital personnel, however, could not inform his family in nearby Netanya of his condition because Fuks' identity card had been left in his car and Safed was cordoned off for fear of additional rocket attacks.

Thankful for his life, Fuks says that the war left him scarred not just physically, but economically, as well.

"It is hard for me to sleep at night from the wounds in my arm. I cannot work or drive anymore," says Fuks.

At times, Fuks is homebound from extreme pain, but still he wanted to return to the site of the attack to thank those who saved his life that day. Even that, however, proved difficult until he turned to Rabbi Menachem Kutner, the man who has been coordinating assistance to the family for the past year.

The Savior from Heaven

Dovid Weitzman, left, shows Michoel Fuks where he laid unconscious in a pool of his own blood. Photo: Sarah Gal
Dovid Weitzman, left, shows Michoel Fuks where he laid unconscious in a pool of his own blood. Photo: Sarah Gal
After Fuks' release from the hospital, Kutner, an official with Chabad's Terror Victims Project – an initiative of the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel – received a call from the rehabilitation division of Israel's National Insurance Institute.

"They told me that a father stopped working because of his wounds, that the mother left her teaching job to take care of the family, and that they would not be able to assist them," says Kutner. "They asked us to take care of them."

Immediately, Kutner set out to raise funds and anything else that the family needed.

"My wife wanted to purchase the necessary items for the new school year," says Fuks. "Menachem called us and he gave us money. All of a sudden we knew that there was someone who cared about us."

"He fell to us from heaven," adds Ronit Fuks. "He gave us money, bought a computer for the children, comes to visit. What does he not do for us?

"To us," she continues, "Menachem cares for us as if we are the only ones he is worried about."

Kutner, who manages assistance to some 2,500 families that have fallen victim to terror attacks, even arranged for Ronit Fuks to take driving lessons so that the entire family wouldn't be grounded.

"Menachem called me up one day and said that he found a donor who is willing to pay for lessons, a car and anything else needed for me to get my license," she says in relating the difficulties of being forced to buy more expensive items locally instead of going to a bigger shopping center. "If I pass the test, our lives will be much easier."

It was during one of his visits to the family that Fuks' wife told Kutner that he wanted to personally thank those that saved him. Kutner promised to arrange just that.

When they finally met, the culmination of a painful year for Fuks came in a warm embrace with Itzik Ben-Chaim who did so much those first few moments. According to all involved, it was an emotional meeting.

"On this spot I was almost buried," says Fuks. "Despite all the pain I endured, I thank G‑d that I am able to be with my kids and my wife."