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Ezra Schwartz, the 18-year-old killed in an attack in the West Bank last week, was remembered as a young leader, son and athlete — a role model to his four siblings. And for Rabbi Doctor Meir Sendor, spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Sharon, Schwartz’s death makes him a martyr.
"Ezra is a holy martyr, a 'kadosh,' his life is a meaningful life, his death is a meaningful death," said Sendor, presiding over Schwartz' funeral at Temple Sinai Sunday. "His life overflows with meaning, because Ezra overflowed with life."
Authorities say Schwartz was shot in a Palestinian attack that killed him and two others: a Palestinian and an Israeli. He was traveling in an area of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — Gush Etzion — where Sunday a young Israeli woman was stabbed to death.
Hundreds of mourners packed the temple, with hundreds more spilling out onto the lawn to pay respects to the Schwartz family.
"He had a heart as big as the world, and his greatness is how he used his strength to care for others with great gentleness," Rabbi Sendor said. "That's the sign of true strength, it's expressed in care, to help, to protect, he used his strength to strengthen others."
Schwartz was one of five children. He was studying in Israel for a gap year after graduating from Maimonides School in Brookline. Schwartz's father says he was planning to enter Rutgers University Business School after returning from Israel.
Ari Schwartz recalled his son's athletic prowess — particularly on the baseball field — but also the quirkiness of his personality.
"He had so many little idiosyncrasies. I used to wonder how this would affect his relationships in his life," Schwartz said. "Over the past few days, I have had a chance to talk with many of his closest friends, and now I know... somehow he made people realize that those little quirky things he did, like flicking people's ears, was somehow his way of saying 'I love you.'"
The death of Ezra Schwartz is the latest in a series to touch the Boston area's Jewish community. Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old Newton native, died in October after he was shot and stabbed on a bus in Jerusalem.
And in November 2014, another man with Boston roots, 59-year-old Rabbi Moshe Twersky, was killed in an attack in Jerusalem.
This segment aired on November 23, 2015.
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