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May 25, 2016 8:30 pm

Rabbi Who Recently Immigrated to Israel Recounts Son’s Near-Death Experience After Palestinian Terrorist Opens Fire on Bus

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The bullet struck the bus window directly in front of the driver.

The bullet struck the bus window directly in front of the driver.

A prominent New York City rabbi  who moved to Israel in 2015, and whose teenage son narrowly escaped death on Saturday night when a terrorist opened fire on the bus he was riding told The Algemeiner he has no regrets about making Israel his home.

“We moved to Israel this past summer to fulfill a decades-long dream to live in our homeland,” Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier, the former spiritual leader of the prestigious Fifth Avenue Synagogue said. “We have visited Israel over the years during times of war and waves of terror. We knew that we were coming to a place, where our enemies never let us take our blessings for granted. While this experience was unnerving, the beautiful way that the kids and the school responded reminded me that this is a very special place. And in general, we feel very safe in Israel. We do not have any regrets about moving here.”

On Saturday, Kermaier’s 16-year old son, Binyamin, was riding in a private bus after spending Shabbat in the Judean town of Tekoa, when a Palestinian car pulled in front and a terrorist opened fire on the bus. The bullet struck the window directly in front of the driver’s seat, but “blessedly,” he said, it didn’t penetrate because the window was bullet proof. “Though the bullet impact was strong,” Rabbi Kermaier wrote in an email to friends, “the driver maintained his composure and did not lose control of the bus. We were told afterwards, that the likely agenda of the terrorists was to force the bus off the road so that they could then murder the kids, and perhaps kidnap some of them.”

Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier. Photo: Facebook.

Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier. Photo: Facebook.

Despite the terrifying encounter, Kermaier, who began his email with the quote: “God’s kindness is limitless; His mercy is never exhausted. (Lamentations 3:22),” said that when the driver brought the students back to their Yeshiva — Mekor Chaim — the school and its students responded with a spirit of faith and kindness. The Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) gathered the students in the study hall to talk with them about what happened and they sang songs of thanksgiving to God for bringing them home safely, he said.  Rabbi Kermaier also recounted that the students decided that they were going to bring the bus driver back to the Yeshiva to honor him for saving their lives.

The next day, he said, the boys recited Birkat Hagomel, “the blessing whereby an individual humbly acknowledges that he is hardly worthy of God’s incredible kindness.”  Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister also attended the moving ceremony the next day, Kermaier told The Algemeiner.

The rabbi,  who has four children with his wife Elana said that the incident still haunts him, knowing that his son had so narrowly escaped death.

“Elana and I, and our parents, were rattled by the experience (Binyamin seems to have taken the whole incident in stride). It is unnerving – to say the least – to know that a ruthless killer targeted our son and his friends. But at the same time, we are so moved by the way that the school and the students responded to a near-tragedy with faith and goodness,” he wrote. “Reaffirming and celebrating life – no one does better than the people of Israel.”

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  • HaDaR


    “Near death experience”!!!
    NO ONE was in any danger, since the bus is BULLET-PROOF!
    I have been travelling on those buses for 21 years and most of the time I sleep!!!

    Sensationalism is ALWAYS wrong!

    I thought that the Algermeiner was above such levels!

  • There is no greater evil in this world than Islam terrorists.

  • Nobody should have to live in fear that themselves or others will be seriously injured or murdered by the scourge, otherwise known as the Palestinians and their allies. Israel is one again being pressured to enter into “peace talks.” What Netanyahu should be telling the international community is that Israel is going to take a much more assertive role to safeguard their people from those who seek Israel’s destruction either politically or militarily. Of course, everyone knows that the Europeans and tragically Obama can care less about peace. They use “peace talks,”as a way to continue to harm Israel. Netanyahu should be saying that unlike all the other times, Israel does have preconditions to “peace talks.” The first precondition should be that there will be no further discussions of “peace,” until the Palestinians remove their current terrorist based government. All acts of terrorism will be dealt with very strictly. This would include an immediate post trial death sentence for anyone who commits acts of terrorism. All intifadas like the one Israel has been experiencing for the last several months, will necessitate the same treatment that perpetrators who intentional saute against innocent Israelis. These new stipulations and guidelines will have no influence by outsiders who placate Palestinian aggression. The lack of response to finally end the violence that Israel has been forced to endure has been eerily silent from Netanyahu and that any and all decisions on how to respond to long standing criminal acts by the Palestinians will have no effect from outside entities. How many more innocent Israelis will have to die before Israel adopts a more proactive approach to safeguard their people.

  • Son,grandson,student, friend, innocent.Thanking HASHEM is not enough. We must enforce HIS laws and prevent terrorism from the source without compromising and apology.So glad all were saved. How many lives did Hiroshima save? How many lives has Oslo lost?

  • Lia

    Am Yisroel Chai!!!!

  • sabine Gilbert

    I knew Rabbi Kermaier when he was Rabbi in Hong Kong

    and of course Elana.

    He was the Rabbi who officiated the ceremony for my wedding.

    I know him more than 18 years and he was a fine Rabbi and a Mensch.

    I wish him well in Eretz Israel and hope no more such bad incidents to him to his family to NOBODY

  • Yaakov

    What does it mean for a shul to be prestigious? “Prominent” and “prestigious” are words commonly encountered in PR releases, and even there their use is questionable.