Hundreds - Othniel and area residents, friends, students and family members - accompanied Rabbi Dan Mertzbach, 55, to his final resting place on the Mount of Olives on Friday.
He was survived by a wife, five children and 10 grandchildren. A professional architect, Mertzbach served as a rabbi for Tene Omarim, Shima and Eshkolot. He was was buried in the Mount of Olives on Friday.
Rabbi Mertzbach was killed in a tragic IDF fire incident in southern Hevron at 05:00 on Friday morning while making a routine pilgrimage to the Cave of the Patriarchs. Two women riding in the car with him were injured as well. The incident is still under investigation.
Eulogies were given in the Otniel synagogue before the procession began its trek to Jerusalem at 09:45.
One of his sons said "My father so loved the people of Israel and Eretz Israel. He loved all Jews, and always strove for unity, making the efforts himself if need be, even with those he did not agree with."
"Dad," he added, "You were always the first to race to do everything holy. Today, when I saw the car in which you were killed, I saw the blood - the warm blood not just of my father, but the father of everyone here."
Otniel spokesman Yehuda Glick said Rabbi Mertzbach was a man of God 24-hours a day, noting that he served as the rabbi of a number of communities in the area.
Glick called the rabbi the soul of the community, adding that Rabbi Mertzbach planned Otniel's synagogue, built its beit midrash (study hall) and brought in many rabbis to teach there. He said many people in the community wept for a father who took many of them under his wing.
The Defense Ministry partially recognized Rabbi Merztbach as a victim in Israel's war on terror so that the National Insurance Institute would be able to help his family with funeral arrangements and expenses.
The family is set to request full recognition and the Defense Ministry is expected to approve the request.