YARTZEIT: Remembering Ezra Schwartz And Rabbi Yaakov Don

From left to right, Ezra Schwartz’s mother Ruth, father Ari, and brother Hillel plant a tree in his memory on Dec. 30 in Israel. (Photo: JNF)
Today, 7 Kislev, we commemorate the Yartzeit (anniversary) of Ezra Schwartz HYD and Rabbi Yaakov Don HYD. On the 7th of  Kislev, 5776 they were killed by an Arab gunman who opened fire on a line of traffic near Alon Shvut in the Judea & Samaria area. The gunman continued to fire as he drove the car towards Gush Etzion Junction where he lost control of the vehicle, which then crashed into another vehicle.

The minivan in which Ezra Schwartz was riding with classmates, with an inset photo of Ezra

The attack took place at around 4:35 P.M. as the gunman fired an Uzi submachine gun at cars stuck in traffic, and then his car crashed and continued to step out of the vehicle to continue shooting.The attacker was immobilized by a driver, Yuval Lasri, who told reporters that, ” I didn’t shoot at him because I wasn’t sure that he was the terrorist, but then I saw the gun next to him and understood that he was.”

Friends and classmates gather around the coffin of slain yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz at Ben Gurion

This attack shocked the nation coming, as it did, after a period of calm, free of terror attacks. Together with the stabbing at a synagogue in Tel Aviv that occurred only a few hours earlier, it was, “the bloodiest day in Israel since this latest round of Arab violence began back in September.”

Ezra Schwartz (18), an American from Sharon, Massachusetts who was studying abroad was one of the victims. He had recently accepted admission into the Rutgers Business School and was taking a gap year in Israel. Schwartz was on his way to volunteer at Oz VeGaon, a memorial park in honor of three Israeli boys who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 2014.

49 year old Rabbi Yaakov Don HY”D of Alon Shevut

Yaakov Don (51), teacher, father of four from Alon Shvut was also killed in the same attack. Don was taken to Hadassah Medical Center, where he died within hours of the attack.

A Palestinian man was also killed and two Israel women were injured, one in the car crash, the other by gunfire. They were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center where they fully recovered.

Ezra HYD and Josh Hanau pose with an ambucycle their family donated in 2010 (Israel Rescue)

Several events are being held in commemoration of Ezra’s life. a United Hatzalah Ambucycle will be dedicated in Ezra’s memory, which will hopefully help in saving many lives.

“As Ezra’s 2nd Yartzeit approaches, thank you for helping us feel peace in our hearts, that lives will be saved in Ezra’s honor.” said Ezra’s mother, Ruth Senecal Schwartz.

Childhood friends Dani Lerner, Ezra Schwartz, Josh Hanau, Ariel Goldman and their families donate ambucycle together to help support the work of United Hatzalah.

This will not be the first Ambucycle bearing Ezra’s name. In 2010, four childhood friends from Sharon, Massachusetts, Josh Hanau, Dani Lerner, Ariel Goldman, and Ezra Schwartz, and their families donated an ambucycle together to help support the work of United Hatzalah.

A very moving and special event was held yesterday morning in Israel, as those who wanted to celebrate Ezra’s life came to participate in a memorial walk. The walk started outside of Alon Shvut, the location where Ezra Schwartz and Rabbi Yaakov Don were killed and continued into Oz VeGaon, the tranquil park where Ezra had been going to volunteer on that same day two years ago, to help beautify the grounds.

Memorial walk for Ezra Schwartz HYD to Oz VeGaon (Via FACEBOOK – Rocky Fishman Brody)

Together, friends and family, and those who wanted to learn more about Ezra, walked, painted rocks were left behind in a meditative rock garden, ‘Ginat Oz Shel Ezra’, as people sat side by side sharing memories of Ezra and inspired each other.

(Via FACEBOOK – Rocky Fishman Brody)

Ezra’s mother Ruth Senecal Schwartz was able to join via video phone throughout the entire memorial event.

(Via FACEBOOK – Rocky Fishman Brody)
(Via FACEBOOK – Rocky Fishman Brody)