The right thing to do”: Fathers whose sons survived the deadly crush on Lag BaOmer in Meron flew to New York with Chabad of SOLA’s Rabbi Avraham Zajac to daven at the Rebbe’s Ohel and comfort the families of the victims.
This past Shabbos, congregants at Chabad SOLA in Los Angeles sat together for a farbrengen after davening. On their minds was the tragedy in Meron, Israel, where 45 Jews were killed in a deadly crush on Lag BaOmer.
A few of the men present at the farbrengen were deeply shaken, as their own sons had traveled to Meron to celebrate the yartzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) together with many others from around Israel and the world.
As parents to boys that were in Meron and were safe from the tragedy, we were thinking how can we connect and show support for parents who lost children there, says Tzvika Ferszt, a member of Chabad SOLA.
Speaking with their Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Zajac, the idea came up for a group of them to fly to New York and comfort the families who are sitting shiva.
Heading the delegation from California this week was Rabbi Zajac and joining it were Ferszt, Dovie Blauner, Danny Fishman, Edo Cohen, Yonatan Abesera and Levi Aron.
Their first stop was at the Rebbe’s Ohel at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, where they davened and thanked Hashem for their children not being harmed in the Meron crush which left some 150 people injured.
They then went on a journey visiting the family of Donny Morris (19) in Teaneck, Shraga Gestetner (35) and Yosef Amram Tauber (19) in Monsey, and Pinchas Menachem Knoblowitz (22) in Boro Park, all of blessed memory.
During the visits, they personally spoke with the mourners, heard about the lives of the children who were killed and shared kind words of comfort. They met with fellow rabbis, as well as Attorney General of New York Letitia James.
Calling it a kiddush hashem, Ferszt said people were deeply moved by the gesture that showed how the Jewish community cares and stands up for each other in times of need.
It was the right thing to do, he said. We went in for 24 hours and each of the families was very appreciative that we came. It was a very meaningful trip. We strengthened them and we came out uplifted.