600 Jews sat shiva this week, among them 18 widows and 60 orphans for 45 people, among them 13 children (including two sets of brothers).
Ariel Ahdut, 21, student of the Yesodot HaTorah yeshiva in Tel Aviv, one of the most respected yeshivas in the Sephardic Jewish world.
On Wednesday, April 29, the day before his passing, his mother, Tehi, came to visit him at the yeshiva. She took several buses to meet her son, and it was the first time she had made the Lag B'Omer trip in the three and a half years that he was studying at the yeshiva, she said at the shiva. The mother and son went shopping for clothes and ate together and talked for six hours about his progress in his studies and the goals he set for himself for the coming summer months. This was their last conversation. When asked why she came, she told his Rosh Yeshiva that she simply felt an urgent need to meet with her son. The last sentence Ariel wrote on a white board of inspiratioal Torah messages was: "Do not go to a place where everyone is jammed together.”
Rabbi Yisrael Alnakvah, 24, from Beit Shemesh, father of two.
Avrohom Daniel Ambon, 21, from Argentina and a student of Heichal Yitzchak Yeshiva.
A wonderful student, focused only on learning. It is rare to find a student in Argentina who isn’t at all interested in soccer. But he truly didn’t care about it. His passion was within the walls of the yeshiva. Very responsible and good-natured, never had difficulty getting along with any other person. When Hashem decided to take Avraham Daniel, we lost a pure neshamah, someone who never tasted temptation, in a generation that faces so many challenges. On Lag B’omer, while Avraham Daniel was in Meron for the first time, his father, Rabbi Embon, was gathered with other rabbanim, in a special learning in memory of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. At around 9:00 at night Argentinian time, rumors of the disaster started circulating. There was another rabbi present, who also had a child in Meron. He tried calling his son, but the lines collapsed, and he started to get nervous. “Don’t worry”, said Rabbi Embon, “the kids will be fine.” The ending was tragic, but it also carries a message. The Embons are all about sharing the messages of emunah and Torah. That’s the way they raised their family, and that was the environment in which Avraham Daniel grew and turned into a pure soul.
Rabbi Moshe Bergman, 24, from the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Yonoson Chevroni was a student at Givat Shmuel and the father of three.
He studied at the Beit Midrash in Givat Shmuel and was married with three daughters, ages six, four and two years old. He heroically and faithfully stood by the side of his wife, Tanya, who had fallen ill in recent years. He was a student of Rabbi Reuven Sasson who described him as a noble person. “I have not seen people mourning like this except among the righteous," said Rabbi Sasson. “Yehonatan, I have always known that you are righteous and pure, a man of truth,” wrote Chevroni’s sister. “Everyone is talking about the light you had in your eyes. People keep telling us how significant you were to them, and they are sure they are the only ones. Yonatan, I admire how cultivated your hobbies, bought a camera, painted and walked every path in Israel.
Yedidyia Hayut, 13, from Bnei Brak.
“Yedidyia was righteous and holy, and if he wanted me to say anything, it would be this: ‘We all have something in common, we are Jews. Let’s unite. This is the time and the place.'”
Eliyahu Cohen, 16, a Breslov Chassid from Betar Illit and a student of the Heichal Avraham Yeshiva.
Simcha Bunim Diskind, 23.
A brilliant Torah scholar and prodigy in his yeshiva, a married father of two from Beit Shemesh. "He radiated joy and made everyone happy. Everyone felt close to him, no matter who they were," says his father, Yaakov Diskind. "Our son was a gift, and we thank G‑d for the years that we had the privilege of raising him. Just as we do not ask why G‑d gives us a gift, we do not ask why he takes it from us.” Simcha Bunem’s three older brothers enlisted in the army. When he went to study at the kollel, it was clear to all of us that he was supposed to be there. “That is his destiny. To grow and be a rabbi,” says his sister.
Chen Doron, 41, from Cholon.
Moshe Mordechai Elhadad, 12, and his brother Yosef Dovid, 18, from Jerusalem.
The brothers are the sons of Reb Meir Elhadad, a well-known travel agent. Despite the fact that the family lives in Jerusalem, the brothers were buried at Meron. The father eulogized his sons amid bitter tears. He told the crowd how at first they had left the area of the bonfire after one of his sons said that he can’t handle the crowding. “And then Yosef told me: ‘I want to go back.’ I said: ‘Okay.’ I wasn’t worried. And Mordechai ran after Yosef.”
Yehoshua Englander, 9, and Moshe Natan Englander, 14.
Two brothers from a family of Bobov Chassidim from Jerusalem
Mordchai Yoel Fekete, 23.
Yedida Asher Fogel, 22, a student of the Hesder Yeshiva in Ramat Gan, originally from Kiryat Moshe in Jerusalem
We had a dream to see him under the chuppah, with his brothers and sisters. He told me, ‘I’m going to Meron.’
Rabbi Eliezar Mordechai Goldberg, 37, father of four, from Betar Illit
Rabbi Yosef Greenbaum, 22, from Haifa.
Nachman Kirshbaum, 15, from Beit Shemesh.
Rabbi Shmuel Zvi Klagsbald, 34, from Beitar Illit, was a Torah scholar at Maor Einayim.
Rabbi David Krause, 33, father of nine, resident of Beit Shemesh.
While traveling on the relatively short bus ride from Safed to Meron, 19-year-old yeshivah student Shlomo Zalman Leibowitz sent a strange and very uncharacteristic text message to his mother, Sarah Leibowitz: "Mom, I'm on the bus, I cannot explain this but I have a request to you: I do not feel good that I went to Meron, I do not feel good. Pray for me really hard, Mom, promise me. I do not understand why I’m traveling there." “I do not know what happened to my son, a man of wisdom and giving, who called me and told me this,” said his mother. “We have not yet recovered from the death of our grandfather and now a very severe blow has fallen on us. I do not know what to think.”
Yosef Yehuda Levi, 17, from Rekhasim.
Yosef Mastorov, 26, was a student of Yeshiva Rinah Shel Torah, from Carmiel.
Rabbi Shimon Matlon, 37, a Chabad Talmud Torah teacher in Beitar.
“There’s a little boy here, save him! It’s more important.” These were the chilling last words uttered by 37-year-old Shimon moments before he was crushed to death in the Meron disaster.
Yishai Me’ulam, 17, from Rechasim. He had come together with his friend from Rechasim, Yosef Yehuda Levi, listed above.
Daniel (Donny) Morris, 19, from New Jersey. He was a student at Shaalvim in Israel.
Chaim Rock was a yeshiva student from Beit Shemesh who was studying in the Mir Yeshiva in Modi'in Illit.
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Rubin, 27, from Beit Shemesh, was the father of three.
Nechama’s oldest son is just four years old, but able to recite Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer. “My son doesn’t really understand what’s going on,” Nechama related. “He asked me why Daddy is in a tallit. But my older daughter does understand, and she cries even as she tells me that we’ll help each other and that somehow we’ll manage.
Rabbi Chaim Ozer Seller, 24, was the father of one and a resident of the Neve Ya'akov neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Moshe Ben Shalom, 21, was a student at the Ponovitz Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
Elkana Shila, 29, of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Chanoch Solod, 52, was also a Gur Chassid from Ashdod.
Dov Steinmetz, from Montreal, Canada, was a student of Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
A gentle soul who only wished to serve his Maker and bring peace to those around him. He was a student at the Beer Yisrael yeshivah in his hometown of Elad and the child of Boaz and Rachel Strakovsky. Among the belongings of the student, his friends discovered the following handwritten prayer, which he compiled:
Yosef Amram Tauber was a resident of Monsey, New York, who came to the Brisk Yeshiva in Jerusalem to study
Yossi Tauber had just arrived in Eretz Yisrael for the first time four weeks ago. A star student of Rav Ephraim Wachsman at Yeshiva Meor Yitzchok in Monsey — “our crown,” as the rosh yeshivah referred to him in his heartrending hesped — Yossi stood out from among his peers in Torah and caring for others.
“Yosef Amram was a student who had a future of greatness — greatness in Torah, greatness in influencing others, greatness in yirah,” Rav Wachsman cried. “He was filled with so much insight in Torah, so much dedication, so much gentleness and wisdom.”
Rabbi Ariel Tzadik, 56, Chabad Chassid from Jerusalem.
He leaves behind five children. He was one of the pillars of the Chabad community in the Beit Vagan neighborhood.
Rabbi Menachem Asher Zeckbach, 24, was a yeshiva student living in Modi’in Illit. He left behind his pregnant wife.