Heartwarming meeting: Meron victim and son thank police officer who saved them

“What Rami did for me shows that we can make coexistence work if we really put our minds to it,” Rabbi Hayut said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

In a heartwarming meeting in his home, Rabbi Avigdor Hayut met the police officer who saved him and his youngest son Shmuel early Friday morning at Mount Meron. Sadly, another son died in the catastrophe.

Rabbi Hayut would have lost his life himself if not for the actions of Officer Rami Olan, who visited the family in the city of Bnei Brak to offer his condolences on the loss of his eldest son, Yedidya, 13.

“I was lying on the floor, down on the ramp, with the mass of hundreds of people pressing down on us,” said Hayut.

“I saw Rami yelling to me, ‘Give me your hand, I’ll pull you out.’ But I said ‘forget about me, save the boy,’” Hayut said, referring to his eldest son Yedidya.

“At that point, Rami tried, but was unsuccessful.” Yedidya became separated in the crush together with a friend, a student of Rabbi Hayut. Both died in the tragedy.

However, Officer Olan did save Rabbi Hayut and his youngest son.

Hayut said the officer’s actions showed that it was possible for different segments of Israeli society to look past their differences.

“What Rami did for me shows that we can make coexistence work if we really put our minds to it, that it’s in our hands,” he said. “We can do it when disaster strikes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can also do it on a daily level.”

When still in the hospital, Hayut told Ynet the harrowing tale. He, his sons and his student left following the bonfire ceremony and were caught on the ramp.

“In a moment, my eldest son separates from me with the student. I find myself on the floor, lying on my back with the younger son, when from moment to moment more and more people fall on us. A few more people were on the floor. And I hear my little son screaming, ‘Father, I am dead,’ and shouts, ‘Hear, O Israel,'” the latter reference to a prayer Jews recite before dying.

“I shout at him, Shmuel. I call his name, pour water on him from bottles that people have given us … and my son tells me that he is dead, and I also feel that the seconds are few, I stopped feeling a sensation in my body, and everything is vague. I knew the end was really near,” he said.

Rabbi Hayut had the same message about the importance of coexistence for Ynet.

“We’ve been through a hard time lately, we’ve been through corona, many have passed away and we’ve been through a disaster right now,” he said. “We are Jews, and what characterizes us is caring for one another. I saw it here on Saturday, the heart of everyone, even in the media – and I thank you for that.”

It was the first time Rabbi Hayut had visited Mount Meron.