Muslim leader in Sharon, Mass. consoles Jews over teen killed in terror attack
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Muslim leader in Sharon, Mass. consoles Jews over teen killed in terror attack

In letter to community rabbi, Imam Abdul Rahman Ahmad extends ‘deepest condolences’ to his ‘Jewish brothers and sisters’

18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, November 19, 2015. (Courtesy)
18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, November 19, 2015. (Courtesy)

The leader of the Muslim community in Sharon, Massachusetts, has reached out to the town’s Jews, expressing “great sadness” in the wake of a terror attack in Israel that killed Jewish community member Ezra Schwartz, 18.

In a letter addressed to his “Jewish brothers and sisters,” Imam Abdul Rahman Ahmad said that he wished to extend his “deepest condolences for your tragic loss.”

“It was with great sadness that I learned last night that Ezra Schwartz of Sharon had his life brutally cut short in Israel yesterday,” Ahmad wrote in the letter, sent Friday to Joseph Meszler, the rabbi of Sharon’s Temple Sinai.

“The Islamic community at Sharon has always categorically condemned such violent acts based on our firm belief that Islam enjoins us to be a people who bring peace and harmony to the world,” he added.

Schwartz was one of three people killed Thursday when a Palestinian man opened fire at vehicles outside the settlement of Alon Shvut, just south of Jerusalem.

He and a group of fellow students from Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh, where Schwartz was spending his post-high school gap year, were delivering food parcels to Israeli soldiers in the area when the terrorist opened fire.

The attacker also killed Ya’akov Don, 51, a teacher from nearby Alon Svhut and Shadi Arfah, a 24-year-old Palestinian from Hebron, before he ran out of ammunition and was arrested.

In his letter, the iman offered to “serve as a resource and ally for you during this trying time,” and expressed hope that “this terrible incident will be a catalyst for bringing our communities together, rather than pulling us apart.

“Your families will be in my and my family’s hearts, and in our prayers,” he concluded, before signing the letter with a Hebrew condolence traditionally uttered by visitors to Jewish houses of mourning.

Friends and family attend a ceremony in memory of Ezra Schwartz at Ben Gurion international airport on Saturday night, November 21, 2015 (Moti Karelitz/ZAKA TEL AVIV)
Friends and family attend a ceremony in memory of Ezra Schwartz at Ben Gurion international airport on Saturday night, November 21, 2015 (Moti Karelitz/ZAKA TEL AVIV)

On Saturday night, several hundred people assembled at the Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv to say goodbye to Schwartz, before his body was loaded on to a plane to be flown back to Sharon for burial on Sunday.

During the ceremony, a letter was read from Schwartz’s father, Ari.

“I cannot help but be happy for Ezra,” he wrote. “We know that he is okay right now and that gives us peace.”

The letter continued, “We have no regrets. I am happy for him because of all the places he went and all the people he was able to touch. Some people live long lives but have unfortunate circumstances that make life hard. Ezra had a wonderful life and he died a happy person, and that is more important than anything else.”

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