Yeshiva Massacre: Joyous Memories Rise from Grief

What can one do with the tearing grief that terrorism brings? Family and friends of the victims of the Mercaz HaRav massacre wrote their stories.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Princes Among Men
Princes Among Men
Israel News Photo: (courtesy of Feldheim Publishers)

It is never easy to let go of a loved one, especially when that person is a child, or a teenage friend – and worse, when he died in a bloodbath at the hands of a marauding Arab terrorist.

What does one do with such grief?

The friends, families and fellow students of the eight young victims of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva massacre wrote a book into which they poured all their love. Princes Among Men: Memories of Eight Young Souls (Feldheim Publishers, 2009) is filled with memories, color photographs and letters contributed by those who knew and loved the boys who were murdered.

On Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5768 – March 6, 2008 – an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem infiltrated the shared campus of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva and the Jerusalem Youth (Yashlatz) yeshiva. Toting a cardboard box that people assumed was simply filled with supplies for the school, he entered the yeshiva’s library, quietly removed the weapons and ammunition and began shooting and killing the students.

An off-duty IDF soldier and former yeshiva student who raced into the building managed to kill the rampaging terrorist, but not before eight young lives had been snuffed out and many other students wounded. The shock and grief that followed shook the entire country

Roei Aharon Roth, 18, of Elkanah in Samaria (Shomron)
Author Tzachi Phanton explained in his chapter about Roei that the 18-year-old rabbinical student was never meant to stay in this world forever; his soul was actually that of an angel’s who had been sent here on a mission – to inspire other Jews to energize their prayers.

The smile on his face never disappeared, the smile of mitzvah and kedusha [good deeds and holiness] A benevolent smile, a loving smile, the smile of an angel. Anyone who dies will return to this world with such a smile, but only at the End of Days. ‘Then our mouths will be full of laughter…’ (Psalms 126:2) But angels possess such smiles even in this world.

“When he stood in prayer before his Creator, even a servant girl near the ocean could see the pillar of fire that ascended from him up to the Heavens, and nobody could stand beside him at the moment….” p.229

The excerpt above was reprinted with permission from the memorial volume produced by the senior class of Yashlatz that is available in Hebrew, entitled Shemonah Nisichei Adam (Sifriyat Bet-El, 2008), as well as in the English edition, Princes among Men.

For ordering information please call Yaakov on 646-810-8743 or email memorialbook@yashlatz.com. More details about the book can be found at www.yashlatz.com/book .