Mandy and Ariel Tzadik

Mourning Meron victims: 'I am the head of the family now'

Mandy Tzadik, 19, was one of 63 people who lost a father in the tragic crush on Lag BaOmer; as the oldest of five siblings, he says he is determined to honor his father Ariel's memory by following in his footsteps

Nina Fox |
Published: 05.09.21 , 11:42
With the mourning period now over, the families of the victims of the disaster at Mount Meron are taking stock of a new reality without their loved ones.
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  • Forty-five people were killed and dozens were injured in a crush at a heavily crowded Lag BaOmer celebration at the site in northern Israel on April 29.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מנדי ואביו
    מנדי ואביו
    Mandy and Ariel Tzadik
    Mandy Tzadik, 19, was one of 63 people who lost a father in the disaster, and as the oldest son is determined to honor his father by continuing in his footsteps.
    "In my wildest dreams I never imagined my father being among the dead," says Mandy, who arrived at the Lag BaOmer celebration a few hours before his father.
    “We talked on a video call, I can’t remember the words. I videoed myself dancing and showed it to my Dad and little brother who were on the road at the time,” Mandy recalls.
    “I was.... on the mountain when a friend called to tell me that there was a multi-casualty incident and that they were performing CPR on a large number of people," he says.
    “Since I am a first aid provider I went to help. We did not know where Dad was, we assumed he was helping the medics evacuate the wounded," says Mandy.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    אסון מירון
    אסון מירון
    Medics and police trying to aid the injured following the deadly crush at Mount Meron
    (Photo: AFP)
    Despite not hearing from his father Ariel during the incident, Mandy was certain that he would appear once the area was cleared.
    “Come morning we assumed he would come to pick up the tefillin from our tent. At 6:30am we saw that he was not coming so we decided to go home. On the way back we got the news,” says Mandy, adding that the task of leading the family now falls to him.
    "I do not think it is possible to digest such a thing at all. We are five children, four sons and a daughter, the youngest is only nine years old. The concern for the family now falls on me. But I also see it as a mission because we are supposed to continue on Dad's path," he says.
    “It's a completely different life without him. He was everything. His absence is the hardest thing for me and my siblings," says Mandy.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Emotional rescue workers share a hug at the scene of the Meron disaster
    Emotional rescue workers share a hug at the scene of the Meron disaster
    Emotional rescue workers share a hug at the scene of the Meron disaster
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    He says that he and his family are not looking for someone to blame for the incident, they just want to understand what happened in the crush in a passageway that led to so many deaths.
    Finger-pointing “will not bring Dad back," he says.
    "We will however not rest until the truth comes out. A real, consistent and serious investigation should be established. What happened was an egregious case of negligence.”
    On Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he had formulated an outline for a major inquiry into the disaster, which includes a joint probe by the Israel Police and its internal investigations department.
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