Ezra Yehiel Schwartz Hy"d
Ezra Yehiel Schwartz Hy"dCourtesy

The funeral of Ezra Yehiel Schwartz, yeshiva student who was murdered by a terrorist Thursday in Gush Etzion, began Sunday morning, Boston time. Schwartz, 18, is a US citizen and a student at the Ashreinu Yeshiva in Beit Shemesh. He was in Israel on his own.

Rabbi Dr. Meir Sendor, the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Sharon, MA, eulogized Schwartz.

Ezra chose the yeshiva at Beit Shemesh because the program there included volunteer work and he wanted to experience Israel, according to Rabbi Sendor. He was murdered as he planned to distribute food to the soldiers guarding over Israel against terror attacks. "Ezra would have it no other way," said the rabbi. "He was a young man of courage and heart. He was brave. He was there to help. This is what he chose. This is who he was. This is where he had to be. He is a holy martyr.

Rabbi Sendor added: "Our Torah has profound things to say about the neshama (soul) that has suffered death for Kiddush Hashem (the sanctification of God – ed.). I know that Ezra in the way he lived and the way he died is close to God. We've always known that Ezra is a person of holiness. His life is a meaningful life, and his death is a meaningful death."

Ezra's father, Ari Schwartz, held back tears as he said: "We are so proud of who he was. We are proud to be proud of the greater Jewish community that connects us throughout the world." He thanked the Israeli and US government for calling and expressing their condolences, saying: "It made us feel that he was important. Every person is important."

"Ezra had a great life," he said. "We are proud of who he was and what he accomplished. He had 18 great years. We had a great son and a great brother. His grandparents and his cousins, his aunts and uncles and his friends, will miss him greatly. And he will miss you. We did great things together and he did great things on his own." He spoke of his son's love of sports, especially baseball, and his connection to children, which came into play when he served as a counselor in summer camp.

Ezra Schwartz and the five other students who were hurt in the attack had come to help build the Oz Vegaon site, which was established in memory of the three yeshiva students who were abducted and murdered last summer. They also intended to hand out food to soldiers in Gush Etzion. The five other students were lightly wounded and were treated at Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

The Beit Shemesh Municipality announced that it is "shocked and grief-stricken by the murder of the yeshiva student, in the shooting attack at Gush Etzion."