Massachusetts Native Ezra Schwartz Killed in Shooting in Israel
by Natalie Perlov on Friday, December 11th, 2015
On November 19th of this year, Ezra Schwartz of Sharon, MA was shot and killed in the West Bank, reports a Haaretz article published on the same day. Schwartz, an alumnus of the Maimonides School, an orthodox Jewish institution in Brookline, was spending a gap year in Israel. While abroad, Schwartz intended to study at the Yeshiva Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh before matriculating to Rutgers University in New Jersey the next fall.
The program Schwartz participated in was twofold, with both a study and service component. On the afternoon of his murder, Schwartz and his peers at the Yeshiva were en route to Oz Vegaon. This park commemorates the memory of three Israeli teens who, while hitchhiking in the area, were abducted and murdered during the summer of 2014. According to another Haaretz exclusive from December 2nd, 2015, Schwartz and his friends visited the memorial site several times to maintain the area.
On November 19th, they again visited the site to deliver snacks to soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force. According to the first article mentioned, as the Yeshiva students’ minivan passed the Israeli settlement of Alon Shvut, a Palestinian motorist began shooting at passing cars with an Uzi submachine gun. Three people died: fifty-one-year-old Israeli Yaacov Don, twenty-four-year-old Palestinian Shadi Arafa, and eighteen-year-old American Ezra Schwartz.
Schwartz’s death has devastated hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the Jewish community. The son of Ari and Ruth Schwartz, Ezra was one of four siblings. He was also a counselor at the Jewish sleep-away camp Yavneh in New Hampshire, his co-workers describing him as one of the “most spirited and inspiring” staff members. In a Boston Globe article from November 22nd, 2015, Schwartz’s friend Zachary Gross stated that Ezra “taught me to be outgoing, and always have a positive attitude.” Max Schnaper, a staff member on a teen corps program Ezra had been a part of, builds on Gross’s statement. “[Ezra] taught me to just live a little and enjoy the little things. Just to be happy.”
Thousands of mourners convened at a Sharon synagogue, Temple Sinai, for two hours on November 22nd, 2015 for Ezra Schwartz’s funeral. After the temple reached maximum capacity, roughly 500 people congregated outside, where speakers broadcasted the service. Schwartz’s family—his parents, his sister Mollie, and his brothers Hillel, Elon, and Avi—high school friends, and coaches spoke at his funeral, speaking of the teen’s inquisitive and silly nature. They eulogized Ezra as a passionate Zionist and a philanthropic young man always willing to lend a hand. Ezra was also an avid fan of the New England Patriots. The football team honored the fallen teen with a moment of silence before one of their games. Ezra’s mother summed up her son’s kind nature at his funeral, saying, “Ezra, I’m so proud of you, and the person you’ve become…So smart and so beautiful and so full of life.”
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