One- fifth of the victims killed in the Meron disaster were citizens of the U.S., Canada or England.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
At least nine of the 45 victims in the Meron disaster were immigrants or visitors from the United States, Canada or England.
The youngest of the group is Eliezer Yitzchok Koltai, 13, who moved from Passaic, New Jersey with his family to Jerusalem.
Moshe Bergman, 24, was an immigrant from Manchester, England. He lived in Jerusalem and attended the Mir Yeshiva.
The Mir is mourning a second student as well: Yossi Kohn, 21, of Cleveland, Ohio. His mother is a principal in Hebrew Academy of Cleveland’s Beatrice Yavne High School.
In a statement to a local news station, the yeshiva said, “Yossi was an incredible young man who endeared himself to all, was beloved by all, and will be remembered fondly by all.”
Daniel (Donny) Morris, 19, of Teaneck, New Jersey, had been in the post-high school program for students from abroad in the Shaalvim Yeshiva in central Israel. He went to Meron with a group of friends from the yeshiva, which is in shock at the loss.
“Daniel was an amazing student, he was studious and beloved by his friends, he had a sense of humor and was bursting with love of life,” the yeshiva said.
Yosef (Yossi) Tauber, 19, of Monsey, New York, had just come to Israel last week for the first time in his life, in order to study in the Brisk Yeshiva. He had several younger siblings and an older sister who is to be married in August.
“All the kids here in the neighborhood are heartbroken, crying about the tragedy,” a neighbor told the New York Jewish Week. “Nobody can believe what happened… This is a wonderful family and a really special boy — he always wanted to be learning.”
Monsey was hit twice, as local Hassidic singer-turned-businessman Shraga Gestetner, 35, also died in the horrific accident, during which dozens of people fell on top of each other on a crowded, slippery walkway on Mt. Meron during the Lag B’Omer festivities. A Skverer hasid originally from Montreal, Canada, Gestetner leaves behind five children.
He was among the first to be identified, and as Jewish law commands that the dead be buried as soon as possible, he was interred Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch had sent out a call for people to come to the funeral, as no one in his immediate family could get to the country before the Sabbath.
A second Canadian citizen who died in the crush was Dubi Steinmetz, 21. His great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors who went to Montreal after the war and built a large family in the city. He is survived by several siblings.
Menachem Knoblowitz, 22, came from the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to social media, he was engaged to be married.
Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi Joseph, 26, was a Satmar hasid who lived in Kiryas Joel, New York. He leaves behind four young children.
One South American was also among the victims. Abraham Daniel Ambon, 21, had come from Argentina to study in a Jerusalem yeshiva for the year.
The Israeli Consulate in New York said it had contacted all the families and was making “special arrangements for families wanting to travel to Israel. We have made it easier for them to go… without having to go through all of the COVID-19 procedures.”
Requests for help with the bureaucracy should sent to [email protected], which is the email address of the Border Control Administration.
El Al is offering two free tickets up through Tuesday to first-degree relatives of those killed, in any country from which the airline flies directly to Israel. They need to present a death certificate and passport photo to El Al’s service center and would only have to pay the port tax.
The tragedy was the worst civilian mass-casualty event in Israel’s history. Sunday was declared a national day of mourning, with flags lowered to half-mast at all IDF bases, the Knesset, and Israeli embassies and consulates all over the world. The Knesset plenum will hold a special mourning session on Monday.