For the second time in less than a week, thousands of Israelis gathered to mourn the victim of a savage terror attack, this time in Otniel, where Michael “Miki” Mark, Hy”d, was laid to rest on Sunday morning.
Mark had been the director-general of Otniel Yeshiva.
His 14-year-old daughter Tehila, who was also injured in the attack, delivered a heartbreaking eulogy in homage to her father:
“I saw you in your last moments … You didn’t let go of the steering wheel, you didn’t try to protect yourself. Until your last breath you tried to save us. I never imagined these would be my last moments with you, but I am proud of you. You are a hero,” she said.
“I miss you, but we will continue to live a happy life for you. G-d took you because he needs more righteous people with Him above. Protect us from there. We love you so much,” she said.
His daughter said through her sobs: “My dad, I love you. I can’t believe we’re saying goodbye. [It feels like] just a moment ago you hugged me and told me you wouldn’t leave us, and now G-d has taken you. We’ve always said our Father in heaven takes only the best,” she said.
“My father, how you’ve added goodness to the world. How you helped others, and all you’ve done for us. Whatever we wanted, you gave it to us from the heart. And even when we did something wrong, you were always with us. But now we’re here and you’re not. Ask our Father in heaven to have mercy on us.”
Netanel, another of Mark’s 10 children, noted that his father was “a polymath, such a great man. Everything you touched turned to gold. You were a man of grace, giving to others without anyone knowing. You did everything with modesty. You dedicated your life to the study of Torah. How can I talk about you in past tense? Every Shabbat I’d come to you for guidance, who will I turn to now?”
“I was sitting and trying to write [your eulogy], and crying,” said Mark’s 18-year-old daughter, Miriam. “I feel like no words are coming out. You were always with me, always believed in me, always been my father—in the hardest of times. You’ve given us so much strength. I promise you I’ll be strong, and take care of mom and the little ones. Dad, we’re together and will stay together. Thank you for the 18 years in which you did not let me fall.”
A number of government officials attended the funeral, including President Reuven Rivlin, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Mossad director Yossi Cohen, who was Mark’s cousin.
Shaked said, “You’ve turned this yeshivah into a lighthouse of Torah. You were a man whose energy was devoted entirely to work of Torah and work for the Land of Israel.”
At one point, she turned to Orit, Mark’s daughter, telling her: “You are right, G-d truly only takes the good ones.”
President Reuven Rivlin said at the funeral, “Jewish blood is not worthless. We promise — over Miki’s grave — that we will continue to fight terror unequivocally, and without fear. We will fight, and we will win. The IDF and the security forces will cut down the accursed murderers who killed Miki. Nothing will cure the pain. But the light of the way that Miki paved will not be extinguished. May his memory be blessed, and may his soul be bound in eternal life.”
Benny Kalmazon, who teaches at Otniel Yeshiva, said the residents of Otniel “will continue the meetings and cooperation with the Arabs. We thank our Arab cousins who passed by the scene of the attack and rescued the family members (from the car).”
Mark’s body was carried out of the yeshivah to Route 60 to Yerushalayim where he was buried on Har Hamenuchos.
The IDF had soldiers stationed along the road and closed off the entrances to the Palestinian villages as the funeral passed. Unable to access the road, the Palestinians stood watching the slow funeral procession.