Arab Israeli town steps up for widow and newborn daughter of Jewish policeman

Residents of Abu Ghosh set up mourning tent, sit Shiva in memory of Neal Erlich, a resident of the Jerusalem-area community who died suddenly at 33

Photographs of Neal and Adi Erlich. (Screen capture: Channel 13 news)
Photographs of Neal and Adi Erlich. (Screen capture: Channel 13 news)

When a Jewish police officer tragically died of sudden cardiac arrest, residents of the Arab Israeli town where he lived stepped up to help his wife and newborn daughter.

Neal Erlich, a 33-year-old intelligence officer living in Abu Ghosh, was buried Tuesday in a police funeral at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.

Erlich had no “true family,” according to Channel 13 news, but residents of Abu Ghosh treated him as though he were family, setting up a mourning tent in the town and observing Shiva, the traditional mourning period in Judaism, with his widow, Adi Erlich, so she would not be alone.

“To us, this is the best place in Israel, geographically, the people — everything,” she told the network.

The funeral for Neal Erlich at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, January 14, 2019. (Screen capture: Channel 13 news)

The coupled married two years ago and their daughter, Ori, was born two months ago. The report did not detail what happened to the rest of Erlich’s family.

“We really love Adi and she has a wonderful daughter who if I don’t see every day, it’d be hard,” local Maher Ibrahim said.

Adi Erlich and Jawdat Ibrahim (R). (Screen capture: Channel 13 news)

Adi Erlich said her husband loved living in Abu Ghosh and especially admired the hummus, for which the town is famous.

“He liked that it was familial,” she said.

Jawdat Ibrahim, a prominent local restaurateur, said residents hoped Adi Erlich and her daughter would stay in Abu Ghosh.

“I’ll stay in he village,” she responded.

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