Jerusalem attack victims remembered as ‘joyful,’ ‘hero’

Argentina-born Rabbi Reuben Birmajer, 45, mourned at late night funeral after leaving behind seven children; Ofer Ben Ari, 46, recalled by daughter as ‘man of gold’

Rescue and medical personnel carrying a wounded man at the scene of a stabbing attack at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem on December 23, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rescue and medical personnel carrying a wounded man at the scene of a stabbing attack at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem on December 23, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Family and friends mourned two Israelis killed in a Jerusalem terror attack Wednesday, including one mistakenly shot by police and an Argentinian-born rabbi stabbed to death by Palestinian assailants.

Rabbi Reuben Birmajer, a father of seven and member of the faculty at the Aish Hatorah yeshiva, died after being suffering deep stab wounds as he left Jerusalem’s Old City via the Jaffa Gate Wednesday.

Another person stabbed in the attack was hospitalized with serious injuries.

Birmajer, a resident of Jerusalem suburb Kiryat Ye’arim, was buried in a late-night funeral at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in the capital’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.

He was a man “full of joy and life,” Zvi Klor, director of the Spanish language program at the Old City’s Aish Hatorah yeshiva, told the NRG news site.

Born in Buenos Aires to a secular family, Birmajer, 45, moved to Israel five years ago after becoming religious, Klor said.

Reuven Biermajer. (Courtesy)
Reuven Biermajer. (Courtesy)

His brother is author and screenwirter Marcelo Birmajer, a well-known figure in Argentina.

The DAIA and AMIA Jewish groups in Argentina both condemned the killing.

“The DAIA firmly condemns this abominable crime against a defenseless citizen, which happens daily in Israel, but this time took the life of a spiritual leader belonging to the Argentine Jewish community,” the group said in a statement, according to the Buenos Aires herald.

Argentina’s ambassador to Israel called the killing “tragic and sad,” according to the Herald.

Rabbi Steven Burg, the head of the Aish yeshiva, wrote on Facebook that Birmajer “spent the morning teaching Torah and was murdered on his way out of the Old City.”

Posted by Steven Burg on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Also killed in the attack was Ofer Ben Ari, 46, a father of two girls, who died after being mistakenly shot by police amid the chaos of the attack.

His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday in Jerusalem.

Ben Ari’s family initially sought an autopsy but after they received proof that Ben Ari was killed by a single bullet dropped their demand.

Ofer Ben-Ari (Courtesy)
Ofer Ben-Ari (Courtesy)

“He was a hero, we have good memories. He was a man of gold who never harmed anyone,” Ben Ari’s 16-year-old daughter told the Walla news site.

“He was always supportive and he could not even kill a bug,” she said. “It is hard and we cannot stomach it, that such an amazing person died. It is inconceivable. He was murdered for nothing,” she said.

Wednesday’s attack was carried out by two Palestinian stabbers, both of whom were shot by police officers at the scene. One of them was killed immediately and the other later succumbed to his wounds, police and paramedics said.

Palestinian media identified the attackers as Anan Abu Habsah and Issa Assaf, both 21, from the Qalandiya refugee camp outside Jerusalem.

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