Remembering Bob Knight – A man who exemplified sacrificial love in life and death

Bob Knight (Photo courtesy)

Bob Knight was 75 years old when he was killed defending his wife against an attacker in March 2020. KNI posted a story about the incident shortly after it occurred.

Bob’s wife, Fruma holds a Master’s degree in counseling, and they were often sought after for Messianic counseling for those seeking help. They would often visit young couples, assist them and encourage them with Messianic counseling. One of these couples was Shimon and his wife Ayelet (not their real names), who attended the same Messianic congregation as the Knights.

Shimon was a troubled person. He suffered from a mental illness, but it was still undiagnosed at the time. Only after the incident he was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a condition which blurs the line between what is real and what isn’t through delusions and hallucinations.

During Bob and Fruma’s visit, seized by a psychotic break Shimon attacked Fruma with a brick – while she was holding Shimon’s baby – thinking they were persecuting him. Fruma fell on the floor, protecting the baby with her body. Bob then threw himself in front of his wife, absorbing Shimon’s continued attacks. When neighbors noticed what happened and shouted to him, he stopped. The police arrived on the scene and arrested Shimon. But by then it was too late. Bob Knight had become the victim of the first tragic killing within the Messianic community in Israel.

KNI recently spoke with Bob and Fruma’s daughter, Caren Bakker.

“My father died while carrying out sacrificial love, trying to help a couple in distress. He died while trying to protect my mother, saving her life. He was such a wonderful man,” Caren said. “God doesn’t cause these terrible situations, but neither does He forbid them. We need to learn not to try to understand it all the way, but to go forward and find our strength in Him. To always remember that He is faithful. ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ was one of my father’s favorite hymns.”

Bob Knight was originally from England, where he worked as an aircraft design engineer. He started out in 1961 working as the tea boy – the 16-year-old boy who brought the tea to the engineers. Eventually he got the opportunity to study engineering and became an aircraft engineer himself.

“When I was a little girl, he would often point at airplanes flying above us and saying ‘I helped design that plane’,” Caren told KNI.

They sent him to work with aircraft all over the world, in Germany, Mexico, Israel – and that’s where he met his future wife, Fruma, while working in Tel-Aviv. They got married and had a son, but Bob’s work kept taking him to different places in the world. First they lived in Germany, and later in England.

“I was born in England,” Caren told KNI. “Since my parents were from England and Israel, and my older brother was born in Israel, dad wanted me to be born in England, so he would have one child born in each country.”

They lived for many years in England, and that’s where Fruma came to faith in Yeshua. Bob had been a nominal Christian until then, but was happy to join her in her newfound faith.

“I was twenty years old when they moved back to my mother’s home country, Israel,” Caren recalls. “I decided to follow them. They were in the Tiferet Yeshua congregation in Tel-Aviv for many years. That is where my mother learned Messianic counseling. They counseled and helped many people, no matter in which congregation they were. They moved to be closer to us. When we went through tough ordeals with our young daughter’s brain tumor, their presence and support was a great help.”

“Everyone remembers my father with fondness. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was social, sensitive and patient,” Caren sums up.

Bob and Fruma Knight (Photo courtesy)

“He was very gentle,” Fruma Knight, Bob’s widow, told KNI. Recalling his great love and concern for the State of Israel, she stated that Bob used to write often to the Jerusalem Post’s “Letters to the editor” section in recent years. “He didn’t save time and effort to get the wording just right in order to either share a different point of view or plan of action, etc. All with one great goal in mind: suggesting new means and ideas where the old ones hadn’t proved themselves,” she said.

Fruma added: “From his many years spent in Israel, Bob gained in-depth knowledge of Israel’s many historic sites and was always very proud of showing round ‘his’ Israel to our many guests. Bob always trusted in God’s faithfulness to Israel, the apple of his eye; Israel would come victorious in the end, simply because the God of Israel said so.”

Shani, a family friend, also remembers Bob with fondness: “He always came early to help set up [at the congregational service]. ‘Bokers’ (his take on the Hebrew morning greeting of ‘Boker Tov’) was his perfect blend of British quip and Israeli joy and still pops into my mind on a particularly bright morning.”

Yochanan Stanfield, an elder at their congregation, told KNI how Bob was always a blessing and support in the congregation.

“He was a quiet and humble man and worked mostly in the background, never making a big noise about himself. I especially remember how he would come over almost every week over a period of many years to sit with my son, who had an interest in airplanes. He would sit with him for an hour and talk to him about motors and airplanes.”

The notice on Bob’s Facebook profile announcing his passing received a lot of condolences from people of all walks of life, remembering Bob.

“I loved and admired him. He was pleasant and humble, had a big smile and an even bigger heart.”

“Bob was a prince of a man. What an example of a beautiful Godly life well lived.”

“Great loss, our family has wonderful memories with Bob and Fruma, good times we spend together. In my prayers.”

“So sad to hear … He was a charming and special man. A pleasant person, it was always nice to talk to him. Big hug.”

Fruma was injured in the incident and hospitalized. Bob’s funeral was delayed in the hope that she would be well enough to attend, but in the end the doctors felt the danger of a seizure was too great, so she said good bye to him in a letter that was read at the funeral. Hundreds of people attended to say their last farewell to Bob.

Fruma spent a month in the hospital in rehabilitation. After they released her home, the other widows in the congregation came to visit often, supporting her.

“Physically, she is almost completely restored now,” Caren told KNI. “During this second COVID-19 lockdown we arranged so she can live with us. It’s a great blessing to have her help with our children. She has grown stronger in the Lord, she feels she has a purpose in life, it’s so amazing to see. She is a very strong woman. It’s not always easy. We miss dad a lot, we cry sometimes, but time heals all wounds. It’s a great comfort for us to know exactly where he is.”

Stanfield wrote in a statement released shortly after the incident: “We could never imagine or expect this to happen. The enemy’s goal is to kill, silence, and paralyze us. But this is not the end of the story. Our Lord is our redeemer and savior. His victory at this point is expressed by us not giving up and keep fighting the good fight. To keep living for him. Thank you for your prayers and support.”

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13