Beer Sheva, Israel, October 7, 2023: A column of smoke at the site of a fallen Hamas rocket from the Gaza Strip (Photo credit: Dreamstime)

It was the first day of Simchat Torah, a joyous Jewish holiday that celebrates the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle and the beginning of a new one, when the war began. Noah Ifergan, a Jew from Toronto, was observing the holiday at his study hall, also known as a Yeshiva, in Jerusalem. 

During the Sabbath, which takes place from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, observant Jews abstain from using electricity. “Electricity amounts to kindling a flame, and therefore violates the biblical prohibition on lighting a fire on the Sabbath,” the website My Jewish Learning says. 

That means no phones, no news. 

On the morning of October 7, sirens rang out across Israel. Ifergan and his friends ran to the bomb shelter. 

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Fin DePencier is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Over the past few years, he has reported on the ground from Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan as a correspondent for Palladium...