Among the 45 ultra-Orthodox men killed in the stampede on Mount Meron last week were ten men who came to Israel from abroad especially to partake in the Lag BaOmer festival that turned into a civil disaster.
While most casualties were Israeli nationals, some came to the Holy Land from the United States, Britain, Canada and Argentina to study, start a new life, or just attend the Lag BaOmer celebration with their families.
Yossi Kohn, 21, moved to Israel from Cleveland Heights, Ohio and was studying toward ordination at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem.
"[Yossi] had a special charm, everyone loved him," said Rabbi Simcha Dessler of Yeshivat Mir. "He was liked by everyone he met. Someone even wrote after his death that he had only met him once, but considered him a friend for life."
Yossi is survived by three brothers and five sisters, all of whom live in New Jersey and Cleveland.
Yosef Amram Tauber, 18, moved to Israel from Rockland County, New York only a month before the tragic event to study in a yeshiva.
"He was very smart, very charismatic," said his relative, Rabbi Menachem Weissmandel, whose 21-year-old son was also on his way to Mount Meron but the bus he was on stopped midway as reports from the disaster came in.
"This is a tragedy for the entire ultra-Orthodox Jewish community around the world,” said Weissmandel, adding that when the coronavirus pandemic hit Monsey, Tauber helped bring food to community members who were in isolation.
Shragy Gestetner, 33, also from Rockland County, was a Skverer Hasidic rabbinical scholar and singer who used to perform at large events. He was originally from Montreal, Canada.
Gestetner, who came to Israel to visit his two brothers, was a gifted writer and composer and wrote songs for some of the leading singers in the ultra-Orthodox world. He is survived by his wife and five children.
Rockland County Legislator Aaron Wieder paid his respects to the two on his Twitter page.
Pinchas Menachem Knoblowitz, 22, came from Borough Park, Brooklyn and got engaged just two weeks before his death. His entire family lives in America and was unable to attend his funeral. Consequently, hundreds came to pay their last respects at the Shemer Cemetery in Jerusalem.
Daniel (Donny) Morris,19, came to Israel from New Jersey. Morris has been studying Torah at the Shaalvim Education Campus in recent months.
"I knew [Daniel] since he was 6, he was a rising star in the Jewish world," a neighbor said. "A sweet boy, no one had a single negative thing to say about him."
Gezer Regional Council head Rotem Yadlin, where Morris studied, said: “It's a terrible disaster. He studied here with a group of fifty Americans, some of whom were with him in Meron. Yesterday, they told us about the incident and it was very difficult."
The rest of the revelers who came from abroad and perished on Mount Meron are Avrohom Daniel Ambon, 21, from Argentina who studied at Yeshivat Heichal Yitzhak in Jerusalem's Kiryat Yuval neighborhood; Eliezer Tzvi Youzef, 26, from Kiryas Joel, New York, a Satmar follower and a father of four; Eliezer Yitzhok Koltai, 13, grew up in Passaic, New Jersey before moving with his family to Jerusalem; Dubi Steinmetz, 21, from Montreal, Canada, a student at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem; Moshe Bergman, 24, from Manchester, UK also a student of Yeshivat Mir.