Mourners gathered in Ra'anana in central Israel Wednesday afternoon to pay their last respects to Elan Ganeles, the 26-year-old American man who was murdered in a terrorist shooting attack on Route 90 near the Dead Sea on Monday.
Ganeles, a native of Connecticut, was a dual US-Israeli citizen who served n the IDF after graduating from high school. After his service, Ganeles returned to the US for college, studying in Columbia University.
Having graduated from Columbia last year, Ganeles frequently visited Israel, and was in the country February to attend a wedding celebration.
"He was the biggest gift in our lives. He wanted so much to see the world and all its aspects," recounted Elan's mother, visiting Israel for her son's funeral. "Our loss is a loss for the [entire] world - of such a bright, brilliant, emerging star," she continued.
"We feel like a part of our being has been taken from us," she stated. "He was so loved, he will be missed so much."
Simon Ganeles eulogized his brother.
"He was the most curious, genuine, and honest person I knew," he said.
"Elan loved his friends more than anything," continued Simon. "His friends were his family. He was in Israel to see all his friends from different parts of his life. He had more friends than anyone I know. He was constantly trying to make people happy."
"He made the most of all his time," recounted Simon. "He meticulously filled out his itinerary in Israel so that he could use each day to its utmost and see as many new places as possible in his few weeks here. This was true about all his travels..."
"Elan was my brother, my best friend, and my biggest inspiration. I will always love him," said Simon.
Elan's younger brother said he had been "lucky" to "spend the last week of his life with him."
"When I think about the person who helped me become who I am today, I think of [him]," he pointed out, as tears poured down his cheek.
"He was the best of all of us. I wish he'd known how much I always looked up to him," the brother said.