Boston Area Communities Mourn Native Son

At the levayah of Ezra Schwartz, Hy”d, in Sharon, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015.  (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via AP)
At the levayah of Ezra Schwartz, Hy”d, in Sharon, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via AP)

In the days following the heartbreaking news that Ezra Schwartz, Hy”d, 18, of Sharon, Massachusetts, was among those killed in a terror attack last Thursday, members of his community struggled to come to terms with their loss.

Following a levayah at Ben Gurion airport, the body was transported back to Boston on Motzoei Shabbos. Nearly 1,000 family members, friends and members of the close-knit community gathered at the levayah in Sharon on Sunday morning.

“His life is a meaningful life. His death is a meaningful death,” said Rabbi Meir Sendor of Young Israel of Sharon, where the Schwartz family davens. Amidst recalling Ezra’s love of life and rambunctious nature, he told the large crowd that he had died as a ‘kadosh.’

Family members recalled Ezra’s fun-loving personality and gentle caring for children. “He had a great life,” said his father, Mr. Ari Schwartz. “We are proud of who he was. He had 18 great years. That is how we will remember him.”

Ezra grew up in the Boston suburb of Sharon where he attended the Striar Hebrew Academy, then went on to the Maimonides Day School in Brookline. He graduated last spring and had just begun his first year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.

Together with a group of friends from the yeshivah, which stresses community service, Ezra was delivering food to soldiers patrolling in the Gush Etzion area when he was murdered.

Naty Katz, head of school at Maimonides, expressed the feelings of Ezra’s alma mater.

“The entire Maimonides School community is profoundly saddened as we mourn the tragic loss of our recent graduate Ezra Schwartz.”

Following Ezra’s murder, Maimonides encouraged its students and members of the broader community to take part in a siyum Tanach in his memory. Mr. Katz said that just a week before his death, Ezra had committed to complete all of the books of Tanach during the year he was planning to spend at Ashreinu. He hoped the campaign would “help actualize Ezra’s unfinished goal.”

Ezra was slated to attend Rutgers University next year. The college lowered its flags to half-mast in tribute.

In addition to the tremendous outpouring of consolation from the community, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry called the Schwartzes to pay their respects.

“Just yesterday, I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school, ready to go to college, excited about his future,” Kerry said Tuesday at a meeting in Yerushalayim with Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to JTA. “And yesterday, his family was sitting at shivah and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child.”