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May 2, 2021 6:08 pm
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‘A Mensch of the Highest Order’: Thousands of Mourners Pay Tribute to Victims of Lag B’Omer Stampede

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is silhouetted near the Israeli national flag, which was lowered to half-mast as the country observes a day of mourning after dozens were crushed to death in a stampede at a religious festival on the slopes of Israel’s Mount Meron, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

As Israel marked a national day of mourning on Sunday to commemorate the Mount Meron stampede tragedy, which occurred on the eve of Lag B’Omer, many more of the victims were buried in a number of locations across the country.

The catastrophe, which occurred early Friday at Mount Meron and claimed the lives of 45 people, is the country’s deadliest-ever civilian disaster.

Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri on Saturday night attended the funerals of his nephews Moshe Mordechai Elhadad, 12, and Yosef David Elhadad, 18, who were buried around Meron. Batzri also lost his cousin Yisrael Anakvah, 24, but could not attend his funeral as he was buried in Beit Shemesh. Anakvah is survived by his wife and two children.

“We lost three members of our family in one evening. A very difficult hardship,” Batzri, who also attended the Lag B’Omer celebration, told Israel’s Channel 12. “I will not allow my children to come next year,” he concluded. “I think I will not come either if nothing changes.”

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Thousands of mourners, yeshiva students and his family who arrived from the US gathered on Sunday evening in Kibbutz Shaalvim to pay last tribute to 19-year old Daniel (Donny) Morris.

Morris, from Bergenfield, New Jersey, was a student on a gap year at the Shaalvim yeshiva. The funeral — which was live-streamed and watched by more than 34,000 people — was attended amongst others by Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch and Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog.

“My special sweet bachor,” said Donny’s mother Mirlana Morris. “I have so many questions and little answers. Donny you were taken away too soon.”

“A mensch of the highest order. A gentle, quiet, lovely boy with the sweetest of smiles,” Donny’s uncle Rabbi Shalom Morris said.

After his family arrived from Montreal, Canada, the funeral of Dov Steinmetz, 21, took place at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot. Steinmetz was a student of the Mir yeshiva in Jerusalem.

“Dovy was not here for himself. He was here for families, brothers, sisters, everyone. He gave to others. That’s something we need to learn: to give to the other,” Dov’s brother said according to a Ynet report.

Israel’s Abu Kabir Forensic Institute announced on Sunday that it has completed the identification of all the 45 victims of the Mount Meron disaster.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited people who were injured in the Mount. Meron disaster, at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

“I have just finished visiting patients who were injured in the Mount Meron disaster. I was impressed by the marvelous care they are receiving from the medical staff, as I was impressed by the rescue operation, which undoubtedly saved lives including those of several patients here,” Netanyahu said in a tweet. “One of the parents told me this sentence that summarizes everything: ‘Here one reveals that the people of Israel has one heart.’ Our heart is with the injured and all of us hope and pray for their full recovery.”

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