Brit student, 24, named among 45 killed in Israel festival stampede after family 'told he was alive, then dead'

Brit student, 24, named among 45 killed in Israel festival stampede after family 'told he was alive, then dead'

05/02/2021

A BRITISH student has been named among the dozens killed during a terrifying stampede at a religious festival in Israel.

Moshe Bergman was buried today at a floodlit funeral after his family "went through hell" after being told he was "dead, then alive, then dead."

He was laid to rest in Jerusalem, where he had been studying for the last two-and-a-half years.

However, his parents missed the funeral as they couldn’t make it to Israel from their home in Manchester in time.

Jewish tradition urges burial as soon as possible, which is why the funeral was heldin the early hours of today.

The 24 year old was one of 45killed when 100,000 people unexpectedly turned up at the Lag B’Omer festival at Mount Meron.

He got married a year-and-a-half ago, and leaves behind a young widow, say reports.

Speaking on his family's behalf, Rabbi Arnold Saunders said they "went through hell hearing rumours that he was dead, then alive, then dead".

"When we heard the general news [about the crush], it was bad enough because this is one of our most joyous days in our whole calendar and Meron is the focal point of it all," he said.

"The community is definitely shocked. They've rallied around the family tremendously and given them as much support as they can."


Those who attended the funeral in Israel said it was a very emotional experience.

“There were hundreds of people at the funeral, and there wasn’t a dry eye,” said Bergman’s brother-in-law Shlomo Dovid Hapner.

A procession started from the funeral home near Bergman’s flat soon after midnight, with eulogies that heaped praise on his kindness and pious lifestyle, and the service at the cemetery continued until after 3am.

Hapner, who moved to Israel from Gateshead, said: “There was an immense crowd, it was a real tribute to him.”

He spoke earlier today as Israel observed a national day of mourning for the disaster.

Flags at the parliament and state offices flew at half mast, as did those at the Israeli embassies around the world.

Radio and TV stations were still putting out appeals to the public for help finding people who are missing, and blood banks were running donation drives to help the injured.

An official investigation is now underway looking in to how the disaster happened,


 

There has already widespread criticism of police, for the conduct of officers, and anger towards authorities for allowing such a huge crowd.

Dozens died when panicked crowds funnelled into a tiny "death trap" tunnel late on Thursday night.

The government allowed the festival to go ahead despite previous warnings of the potential for disaster.

But Hapner, who is married to Bergman’s sister, said he isn’t angry, and doesn’t blame anyone for the disaster.

He thinks it was an act of God that should prompt people to value life and act better towards each other.

“God was trying to give us a lesson, that we need to work on our failures and exemplify the idea of ‘love you neighbour as you love yourself,’" he said.

Getting angry and pointing fingers would be akin to “heresy," he said.

Hapner described his brother-in-law as “a very charming young lad, lovely, always smiling, always cheerful, and never with a bad word to say about anyone.”

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