Slain student had just bought Grossman books for his rabbis

Author David Grossman eulogizes Dvir Sorek: He had the ‘soul of an artist’

Grief crosses partisan divides as renowned author and outspoken leftist, who lost a son in 2006 Lebanon war, reaches out to terror victim’s family

Israeli author David Grossman (Kobi Kalmanovitz)
Israeli author David Grossman (Kobi Kalmanovitz)

Dvir Sorek, laid to rest Thursday evening just days short of his 19th birthday, was “a kind, sensitive youth…with the soul of an artist,” the renowned author David Grossman eulogized on Thursday.

Grossman had never met Dvir, but learned from news reports on Thursday that the young yeshiva student was murdered on his way back from Jerusalem, where he had traveled to purchase books by Grossman as end-of-year gifts for his rabbis.

Grossman reached out to the Sorek family after hearing the news.

“It’s hard for me to speak today without remembering, even if only briefly, the youth who was murdered last night, Dvir Sorek,” Grossman said at an event Thursday in memory of President Reuven Rivlin’s late wife, Nechama.

“I’ve heard a lot about him over the course of the day,” he said. “A kind, sensitive, youth who loved others and loved peace, with the soul of an artist.”

A well-known left-wing and secular voice in Israeli public discourse, the renowned writer shares with the Soreks the experience of losing a child to the conflict.

Dvir Sorek, 19, a yeshiva student and off-duty IDF soldier who was found stabbed to death outside a West Bank settlement on August 8, 2019 (Courtesy)

“My heart goes out to his parents and his family and all who loved him. I say from experience, this is the start of a very long and difficult road,” he said. “I know also that a young man as special and unique as he was will light their path in their grief.”

Grossman’s son Uri, a tank commander in the IDF, was killed in action during the Second Lebanon War — just two days after Grossman joined fellow writers Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua in calling for an end to the fighting.

Sorek’s death sparked similar responses across Israel’s political and cultural divides, with many noting the way grief bridged those gaps.

Yair Sharki, the religion correspondent for Channel 12, posted on Twitter from Sorek’s funeral: “I’m thinking about how frustrating it is that only in such terrible circumstances the public is exposed to the good and real people of this reality, and not to marginalized stereotypes.”

He went on: “When one speaks about settlers or yeshiva students, the context is usually extremism and fanaticism. But now look: a yeshiva student, a soldier, with beautiful sidelocks and broad horizons. On his way to his seminary class clutching a book by Grossman as a gift to his rabbis. Most of life, most real people, are like this, far from the disturbed world that is sometimes depicted in the news.”

Israeli authors David Grossman, left, and Amos Oz, center, listen to A.B. Yehoshua, right, during a joint press conference in Tel Aviv on August 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Sharki’s brother Shalom was killed in a car-ramming by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem in April 2015.

According to one of Sorek’s yeshiva teachers, Rabbi Yossi Froman, he was found clutching “the books he bought as a gift to his rabbis at the end of the year.”

Froman told Hebrew media that this fact revealed Sorek’s character, which was “full of praise and gratitude.”

Another teacher, Yehonadav Samet, confirmed that Grossman’s books were among the gifts — possibly his latest work, the as-yet untranslated novel “Life Plays with Me.”

One resident of the settlement of Ofra, Sorek’s hometown north of Jerusalem, described the youth as a “good kid” and “talented musician” who loved nature.

Yoav Sorek, father of yeshiva student Dvir Sorek who was killed in a terror attack, speaks with the media outside the family home in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, August 8, 2019. (Flash90)

According to investigators, Sorek left his seminary in the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz for Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old failed to return for his evening class at the seminary, sparking a search that culminated early Thursday when his body was discovered on the side of a road leading into Migdal Oz, riddled with stab wounds.

He was not in uniform at the time of his death, the army said, though he is technically a soldier serving in a mixed study-service program.

Sorek’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, an educator and Holocaust survivor, was also killed in a terrorist attack, on Mount Ebal in the northern West Bank in October 2000.

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