The New England Patriots football team will observe a minute of silence before its game overnight Monday against the Buffalo Bills, in memory of Ezra Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on Thursday.
Schwartz, a devoted fan of the football team, was laid to rest in his hometown on Sunday. The 18-year-old student, on a gap year program in Israel, was gunned down in the Etzion bloc in the West Bank on Thursday night, while on his way to distribute food packages to Israeli soldiers. Yaakov Don, 49, and Palestinian Shadi Arfa were also killed in the terror attack.
According to Steve Leibowitz, the president of American Football in Israel, the New England Patriots will pay tribute to all 22 Israeli terror victims killed since early October after the national anthem, and mention “Ezra Schwartz by name as the hometown Patriots fan who was killed.”
Former Knesset member Dov Lipman sent a letter to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, through Leibowitz, asking him to memorialize 18-year-old Schwartz.
“This is such a fitting tribute to Ezra and is so meaningful to his family and friends,” Lipman said after the announcement. “Mr. Kraft is a first class human being who does what is right and just. His support for Israel during these tough times has been unwavering and a pillar of strength for all of us. I am usually a Washington Redskins fan but tonight – and possibly from now on – we are all Patriots. Let’s go Pats!”
According to Lipman, students in the Ashreinu yeshiva that Schwartz attended recalled the teenager’s love of the Patriots, with one student apologizing to Schwartz for telling him “to stop screaming with joy as he watched games in his dorm room at 3:00 a.m.”
Story after story told by family members and his Maimonides School baseball coach recalled Schwartz as a loyal Patriots fan who proudly wore the team’s jerseys and caps. Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots, is located in Foxborough, the town that borders Sharon.
Ezra followed the team closely while studying in Israel according to his father, Ari Schwartz, who said the family watched the games together over the internet. Recently, Ezra lost the connection on his end, but one of his younger brothers held up his phone to the televised game so they could continue watching, he said at the funeral.
“Football kept us connected and we loved it together,” Ari Schwartz said.
JTA contributed to this report.