Amidst thick fog, the cracking voice of the young son of Erez Levanon was heard reciting Kaddish, the prayer of mourning, for his father.

The heavens lowered to earth, enveloping the Gush Etzion cemetery in fog as rain pounded down upon those saying goodbye to Levanon, who was murdered while praying in the forest near his home.

“Erez was the most peaceful man I have ever known,” said a former student at the Bat Ayin Yeshiva as hundreds marched on foot from Bat Ayin to the nearby community of Kfar Etzion, where the cemetery is located. “He would go every night to recite Tikkun Hatzot in the forest across the valley over there.”

Erez Levanon, ztl

Erez Levanon

Though press reports said a “settler was found stabbed to death near the Arab village of Beit Omar,” Levanon was in fact just a couple hundred yards from his home when two teenage Arabs sneaked up behind him as he was deep in prayer, slashing his throat and stomach with knives.

A map used by the Ynet Hebrew news site omits the town of Bat Ayin, giving the impression Levanon was far from home, in an Arab populated area

Yediot Acharonot

His funeral was attended by Breslov hassidim, residents of Gush Etzion, Jews from hilltop communities, redemption rock musicians and the full cast of the various Bayit Yehudi (Jewish House) soul centers that have sprouted up across India in recent years thanks to Erez and his circle of friends. He himself manned such houses in recent summers.

A song Erez composed – one of many – was sang by a close friend of Levanon’s as his body lay wrapped in a prayer shawl before his open grave. The song was prefaced with these words:

“I am about to say something very un-Erez-like, though it is the truth, which is what Erez was all about. Erez died, and we believe that G-d’s actions flow from goodness and that there is a larger picture. But Erez did not die from Cancer or Diabetes. Erez was murdered for being a Jew in the Land of Israel - by Arabs. Vengeance is in order. We are currently under a government that does not make it possible at this time. But we will not forget, and the time will indeed come.”

The words to the song Erez had composed are from the Shoshanat Yaakov prayer said following the reading of Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther) on the upcoming Purim festival.

“To make known that all who place hope in You shall not be put to shame,” the words echoed amidst the sound of heavy rain. “Nor shall all those who trust in You be disgraced forever.”

The unspoken next line of the song is, “Cursed be Haman who sought to destroy me; blessed be Mordechai the Jew.”  Mordechai was Levanon’s middle name.

Mourners walk toward the cemetery

A7 Photo by Josh Shamsi
The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the murder, announcing on its website that a splinter group, the Al Quds Brigades, carried out the attack "in retaliation for the continued Zionist aggression against the steadfast city of Nablus."  Islamic Jihad also warned of "more operations against soldiers and settlers who operate in a criminal manner against the people of Hebron."

Police arrested two 18-year-old Palestinian Authority Arabs early Monday morning for the murder, less than 24 hours after Levanon's lifeless body was discovered Sunday by a search party organized by his neighbors.  He had been praying in the hills near his home when the two jumped him from behind, slashed his throat and stabbed him repeatedly.

Mourners walk toward the cemetery in the fog

A7 Photo by Josh Shamsi

At the Cemetary

A7 Photo by Josh Shamsi

Erez's widow weeps

A7 Photo by Josh Shamsi

The funeral procession departs from Bat Ayin toward the cemetery

A7 Photo by Josh Shamsi
Click here to hear a Bat Ayin resident recount the search for Erez and the facts of his murder.

Two of Erez’s songs can be heard by clicking here and here.
(See sidebar for more photos of the funeral)

All pictures are copyrighted and may be obtained via