Rabbi Haim (Howie) Yehiel Rothman, who died Saturday of injuries he sustained during a deadly terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue almost a year ago, was laid to rest in the evening in an emotional ceremony at the capital’s Givat Shaul cemetery.
Thousands of friends, family and other members of the ultra-Orthodox community paid their respects to Rothman, who 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 attacked worshipers.
Rothman suffered a number of blows to his head from an axe when he tried to fight off the terrorists, his family said. Five others were killed in the attack — four worshipers and one policeman. The attackers were eventually killed in a shootout with police.
Mourners recited passages from the Book of Psalms before Bnei Torah’s Rabbi Mordechai Hacohen Rubin eulogized the 55-year-old Rothman.
“It’s been almost a year and our hearts are boiling again,” Rubin said. “It’s been a year since the attack and we cannot forget what our eyes have seen or return to a normal routine. Again death is at our window, as if the heavens are reminding us to ‘remember, and not to forget,'” he said.
“Remember what Ishmael did to you,” he added, evoking the biblical commandment to commemorate the atrocities committed against the Israelites by the Amalekites.
“The two villains slaughtered and shot people, leaving five widows and 35 orphans,” Hacohen said.
Earlier on Saturday night, Rothman’s daughter Yaffa confirmed her father’s death in an emotional Facebook post, and praised him for confronting the terrorists and saving others during the attack.
“Dad is gone… He was killed by animals lacking humanity,” she wrote. “But he fought them, and saved other worshipers.”
“May his memory be a blessing, and please, come join us in honoring the best man there is one final time,” she wrote.
“He was a true servant of God, a happy Jew who always rushed to fulfill a mitzva,” one of the family’s neighbors said of him to Channel 10.
The Toronto-born Rothman, who immigrated to Israel 30 years ago, is survived by his wife and 10 children.
The attackers stormed the synagogue shortly after 7 a.m. on November 18, 2014, 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 were Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.
Rothman’s death brings the 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.