American victims named after 45 people are crushed to death at Jewish festival

AT LEAST four Americans were trampled to death in the stampede that claimed 45 people during an Israel celebration that turned into a “death trap,” reports say.  

The American victims have been named as Daniel “Donny” Morris, 19; Shraga Gestetner, 33; Yosef Amram Tauber, 18; and Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi Josef, 26.

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Daniel “Donny” Morris, 19, was confirmed to be one of the 45 who died on Friday[/caption]

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Shraga Gestetner was remembered as an accomplished Hasidic rabbinical scholar and talented cantor[/caption]

They died at the annual pilgrimage of Lag BaOmer in Mount Meron just after midnight on Thursday night.

According to witness accounts and video clips circulating online, the stampede began worshippers were bottlenecked inside a tunnel-like passage with slippery steps.

“We are all shocked and devastated. There are no words,” said Rabbi Yechiel Morris and Donny Morris’s uncle told northjersey.com.

Morris had ventured to Israel to study after he completed his academics at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, in Manhattan, the rabbi told the publication.

The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey also confirmed Morris was among those killed.

Thousands of Jewish worshippers crammed the Lag B’Omer event in Mount Meron, northern
EPA

Mourners attend the funeral of Shmual Tzvi Klagsbald, who died in a stampede during Lag Ba’Omer event[/caption]

Reuters

Jewish men mourn during the funeral of Moshe Engerld, 14, and his brother Yehushua, 12, who died during Lag B’Omer[/caption]

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Donny Morris, son of Mirlana and Aryeh Morris of Bergenfield, was one of the victims of the tragic event,” a federation statement read. 

“Our deepest condolences go to the Morris family. May Donny’s memory only be for a blessing.”

It confirmed that Donny’s Israel trip was to complete what they called “his gap year” – a program to bring young people to Israel and develop a Jewish identity.

Rabbi Joseph was described as a father of four children, according to the Jewish Post.

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Jewish mourners attend the funeral of a victim of Jewish pilgrim stampede, at Segula cemetery in Petah[/caption]

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Mount Meron[/caption]

Shraga Gestetner, of Monsey, New York by way of Montreal, Canada, was an accomplished Hasidic rabbinical scholar and also a talented cantor who would perform at large events, according to the Times Herald Record

Yosef Amram Tauber , 18, also of Monsey, was described by the publication as a yeshiva student traveled to Israel to study, the publication confirmed.

And Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi Josef of Kiryas Joel, New York had been raising four children before he was declared among the departed at the holy site.

The festival of Lag B’Omer in Meron counted well over 100,000 people and had was being primed as the first legal religious ceremony since the Covid-19 pandemic gridlocked the planet.

Disaster struck at the overcrowded festival just after midnight.

Attendees slipped on a narrow metal walkway just as thousands attempted to head for the exit – causing a “human avalanche” as bodies piled onto each other, wounding at least 150, some critically.

“Our bodies were swept along by themselves. People were thrown up in the air, others were crushed on the ground,” one survivor who gave only his first name David in an interview with Ynet:

Another survivor named Meir told Ynet from his hospital bed that being stuck around the piles of bodies “felt like an eternity” and that “the dead were all around us.”

Overcrowding is being blamed as the cause and also the hindrance to rescue efforts.

The terrifying end to the holy celebration is being considered one of the worst peacetime tragedies to befall Israel, equalling the death toll from the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire where the country buried 41 people.

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