In yesterday’s bloodbath, one name stood out for me — Ezra Schwartz, the American yeshiva student from Sharon, Mass shot down at the entrance to Alon Shevut
Why? Was it Ezra’s age — he was only eighteen when a Palestinian man he’d never met, let alone harmed, ended his life.
Was it his sweet smile, his face reflecting his innocent desire do good — Ezra had spent his final days busy with yeshiva study and volunteering. At the time of his murder, he was in Gush Etzion delivering food to soldiers .
Or do I cry because I have an eighteen-year-old son too and I can’t imagine losing him?
The answer is a bit of all three. As their stories go public, we “meet’ victims of terror and discover what wonderful people we had in our midst.
Ezra Schwartz didn’t live long, but he lived well. His life was about Israel, the Torah and the mitzvot., and now the nice kid from Sharon, Mass — the prankster, the sports fan — will be remembered as a Jewish martyr, an identity that connects him to our greatest, Rabbi Akiva, the victims of the crusades, Inquisition, Holocaust, and the victims of this present wave of terrorism.
A regular kid from Sharon, Mass, a Jewish martyr. It seems like an oxymoron, but.Ezra’s short life and tragic death are reminders that our little lives are strokes in some bigger picture.
Death isn’t the end. It never is and Ezra died in the best possible way, in the holy land as he was attempting to perform a mitzvah. Undoubtedly, his soul is now in heaven’s highest realm, directly under the Throne of Glory, where all Jewish martyrs go. His death was atonement for all of us, for the entire Jewish people but that won’t wipe away his mother’s tears — or mine.