Almost a year after Palestinian terrorists killed four worshipers and a policeman at a synagogue in Jerusalem, Rabbi Haim (Howie) Yehiel Rothman, who was critically injured in the attack, died from his injuries Saturday evening.
Rothman had been in a coma ever since two East Jerusalem terrorists armed with a gun, axes and meat cleavers stormed the Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof last November and began attacking worshipers.
Rothman, 55, suffered a number of blows to his head from an axe.
Toronto-born Rothman, who made aliya 30 years ago, is survived by his wife and 10 children. He was being laid to rest at 10 p.m. Saturday night at Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery. Thousands of Israelis joined the funeral procession to the cemetery.
“He was one of the most special people in our community who always had a smile on his face,” a member of the Bnei Torah Synagogue told Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom.
“He was so loved by everyone in the community, and his death represents another blow to the community that was broken almost a year ago.”
Shortly after 7 a.m. on November 18, 2014, Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal stormed the synagogue, killing worshipers Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg along with policeman Zidan Saif.
Footage of the synagogue attack showed Saif — a traffic cop and one of the first to arrive at the scene — played a key role in ending the attack, firing from outside the synagogue at the terrorists inside, before one of them ran out and fatally shot him at close range. The Druze officer was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Distinguished Service.
The attackers, cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, were eventually killed in a shootout with police.
Rothman’s death brings the total death toll in the attack to six.
Photos taken from inside the synagogue after the attack showed bloodied male worshipers lying on the floor, still wrapped in their prayer shawls and phylacteries.
The ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood where the attack occurred sits at the Western edge of Jerusalem, and had been mostly shielded from the violence stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that often wracks the capital.