Thousands gather to remember Ezra Schwartz
Thousands gather to remember Ezra SchwartzOU Israel

Over 1,000 American yeshiva students currently studying in Israel attended a memorial service for slain student Ezra Schwartz on Thursday, who was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in Gush Etzion a week ago. 

Among the attendees were former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, a resident of Beit Shemesh who campaigned to have Schwartz's murder recognized at a New England Patriots game this week. 

After the event, which was organized by the Orthodox Union in Israel (OU), MASA, Yeshiva University, and the Ashreinu yeshiva where Ezra studied, many of the students left to attend the wedding of Sara-Tehiya Litman and Ariel Beigel. Litman's father and brother were killed in a terror attack in Otniel earlier this month and called for the public to join them on their special day. 

"Ezra was a very special student who recently delved into the study of the Tanach; it fascinated him," Rabbi Netanel Yuden, Rosh yeshiva (dean) of Ashreinu, stated at the memorial ceremony. "Ezra really loved to laugh, loved to learn and was greatly liked by his classmates."

"We're very blessed to hold an event in memory of the late Ezra Schwartz, who was very connected to the Jewish people, the Torah of Israel and to the State of Israel," Avi Berman, CEO of OU Israel said. "Despite great sorrow at the death of Ezra and the rest of the victims of terrorism, our message this evening is one of victory: the spirit of Israel is enormous and nothing can stop it."

Ezra's death, wherein he was murdered while handing out food to IDF soldiers, "proves again the eternal connection between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora," he added. 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broadcast a welcome message via a video feed to begin the evening. 

"Ezra was on a personal journey to love the people of Israel," Netanyahu said. "He was murdered by villains and the fact that we are here remembering Ezra now is incomprehensible to me." 

"I convey to his family the pain and pride of the entire nation," he added.