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‘Best of the Zionist Spirit’: Thousands Mourn South African-Born Jerusalem Terror Victim

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Family and friends attend the funeral of Eliyahu David Kay at a cemetary in Jerusalem November 22, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

Thousands of mourners on Monday attended the funeral of Eliyahu David Kay, a 26-year-old immigrant from South Africa who was shot dead by a Hamas terrorist in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Kay was laid to rest in an emotional funeral at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem, in the presence of family, friends, government ministers, and senior rabbis.

Speaking at the service, Kasriel Kay said that in line with the Chabad Hasidic tradition, he would refrain from eulogizing his brother Eli, who joined the Israeli military as a lone soldier and served as a paratrooper until 2019. As mourners grieved, Kasriel instead encouraged them to make a positive change in Eli’s memory.

“We should not be sad for Eli. When we put him in, he will be at peace. He was a bit of a nomad, went all over the place, now his time has come to rest,” Kasriel said.

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“We are all sad, crying, but I know that we need to ask ourselves what will change after the funeral in our lives. What can we do so that the memory of our brother will be eternalized, so that for the rest of their lives they will perpetuate what Eli stood for,” he added.

Eli, a Western Wall guide from the central Israeli city of Modi’in, made his way to work on Sunday when he was shot dead by Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, a 42-year-old Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem who was affiliated with the Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas. Four others were also wounded in the attack, which Israel’s public security minister has described as premeditated.

Eli was lauded by family and friends for his passionate love for Israel, where he immigrated by himself from South Africa in 2016. His parents and siblings joined him in Israel last year.

“Every person has their own mission and Eli would want that everyone give the best of their ability in whatever way works for them to protect the Jewish people and advance our country,” Kasriel said.

Nachman Shai, Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, said Eli “represented the best of the Zionist spirit nurtured in Johannesburg and the proud new Israeli living his dream in Israel.”

“Eli’s story is the story of Israel at its best. To love the land, to come to it, to give everything for it,” Shai said during the funeral service. “Your father said yesterday that God only takes the good ones from us too early, and you were the best of the best.”

Israel will ensure that terrorism will not deter anyone, just as it did not prevent Eli and his family from coming to Israel, the minister committed.

“The people of Israel promise to stand tall, grow and prosper,” Shai said. “We will ensure that the state of Israel remains an open and proud nation state of the Jewish people.”

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