'The birthday party has become a day of mourning'

Family of man murdered on 70th birthday in Arab town speaks, says 'no doubt' murder was nationalistic in motivation.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Reuven Shmerling
Reuven Shmerling

The family of Reuven Schmerling, the Jewish man who was found murdered in an Arab town Wednesday, released their first statement following the murder and stressed that they had no doubt that Reuven was murdered for nationalistic reasons.

The extended family is stunned and grieved over the murder of a beloved husband, father and grandfather. There is no doubt that this despicable murder has a nationalistic background," the family said.

Shmerling, who is survived by his wife, Hana, their 4 children, and 19 grandchildren, was to have celebrated his 70th birthday on Wednesday. Locals say the family had gotten together at the victim’s home for the Sukkot holiday and to celebrate his birthday. The family even printed out special novelty shirts to mark Shmerling’s birthday.

The family said that "Reuven (Moti) Shmerling was beloved by all who knew him, a man who was kind to all in need without distinction."

"He was a focal point of joy and spread light in every framework he was involved in. He was a person who contributed his energies and work for the benefit of the community and was willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need at any time, which he did many times in secret.

Reuven's family also said that he served as a cantor in synagogues in Elkana during the High Holy Days, "and the whole community was moved by his voice and his heartfelt prayer that night."

"He was taken from us on his 70th birthday, when the extended family would gather to celebrate the holiday every year on Sukkot. His birthday party unfortunately became a day of mourning," the family added.

Censors have placed a media blackout on publication of details on the ongoing investigation into Shmerling’s murder.

Police indicated that employees working at Shmerling’s factory are suspected in the murder, but have yet to confirm if the killing was a nationalistic attack, or related to some financial dispute.

On Thursday night, the Elkana Local Council announced that Shmerling would be laid to rest at the Elkana cemetery Friday afternoon. The funeral procession is scheduled to leave the Moreshet Yehudit synagogue in the ‘80’ neighborhood of Elkana at 1:45 p.m. Friday.