Slain Hiker Was a Leader and Volunteer

Danny Gonen, gunned down by Arab terrorist, was 'a great soul that walked among us,' says his cousin, Rabbi Itzik Gonen.


Murdered in cold blood: Danny Gonen
Murdered in cold blood: Danny Gonen
Courtesy of the family

Rabbi Itzik Gonen, a rabbi-instructor in the pre-military academy in Lod and a cousin of Danny Gonen hy”d, who was gunned down by an Arab terrorist Friday in Samaria, told Arutz Sheva about Danny Sunday.

It turns out that Danny was an activist and idealist who helped shore up the religious youth movement, Ezra, in Lod, which suffers from a hostile Arab populace.

"Danny grew up in Lod at a time in which Jews were running away from it, before the Torah nucleus group developed, and Jews were not arriving in the city but leaving it,” Rabbi Gonen recalled. “As early as high school, he 'lifted up' the Ezra branch in the city, which was in bad shape, and which was also located in a bad neighborhood.”

“Danny and his friends went to the branch every Shabbat and led activities there, creating an idealistic group that contributed to and influenced the entire city, really uplifting it in its difficult times,” Rabbi Gonen recalled. “That was something that was very typical of him.”

"Danny also took it upon himself to serve as director of the branch, and despite the heavy responsibility he had at home, he took the job and arranged for people to give lessons, prodded the instructors and created a very special atmosphere there,” Rabbi Gonen said. “When you walked in the communities of Lod, there was always a big light shining from the branch.”

Danny's father died when he was young, and Danny became something like a father to his younger brother, who was five at the time. “Sometimes, they used to call Danny 'an old youth,'” Rabbi Gonen said, “because he was still young age-wise, but was already a person with the responsibility and wisdom and experience of a 40-year-old.”

It is no coincidence that Danny died in the war for Israel, the rabbi opined. He was “a holy, pure, good personality. I cannot remember ever seeing him angry. He was a person with innocence and kindness and depth and honesty of thought – a very large soul that walked among us. We were lucky to know him.”