The memory of Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old American brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist last week, was honored by more than a thousand people in Beit Shemesh, where he was doing a combined program of Jewish studies and volunteer work.

Approximately 1,200 people attended a memorial Thursday night for 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz, an American student doing a gap year in Israel before starting college who became a victim of Palestinian terror.

The assailant fatally shot Schwartz and two other victims at the Gush Etzion junction exactly a week earlier. A native of Massachusetts, Schwartz was attending Ashreinu, a program in Beit Shemesh combining yeshiva studies with community service, and he had just handed out food packages to IDF soldiers when the brutal murder took place.

“I have one message for all of the terrorists out there. It is not working. You are only making us stronger,” Rabbi Gotch Yuden, dean of Ashreinu, tearfully told the crowd, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“When we come together as a people there is no putting us down,” he said calling on those in attendance to each complete a small portion of the Bible so that it be read in its entirety by the end of the service in honor of his student Ezra Schwartz, who, only hours before his death, had voiced his desire to complete it on his own.

“We can take Ezra Schwartz’s death and ignore it and just continue and we can choose to take his death and learn from him and give meaning to his death and make it an establishing experience in our own lives,” said Rabbi Meir Lichtenstein of Alon Shvut, whose friend and neighbor Yaakov Don – a beloved husband, father and educator – was killed in the same attack.

“Maybe you thought this was the story of Israel and that you have come as spectators, to have fun and go back to the States. You are wrong. You are part of the story,” Rabbi Lichtenstein continued. “You are part of us. You think you belong to America, but you are part of us… Know that you are part of the story of the Jewish nation.”

By: United with Israel Staff
(With files from The Jerusalem Post)

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