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Aish HaTorah Rabbi Murdered in Terrorist Attack

December 23, 2015 | by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith

Rabbi Reuven Biermacher loved every Jew and radiated a fervent passion for Torah.

The Aish HaTorah family is overwhelmed with shock and grief over the horrific murder of Rabbi Reuven Biermacher, a beloved rabbi of the Aish HaTorah Spanish program. Rabbi Beirmacher spent the morning teaching Torah to his students and on his way out of the Old City was stabbed multiple times by two Arab terrorists just outside Jaffa Gate.

Rabbi Reuben Biermacher, a father of seven children ranging in ages 2 to 18 was a man full of joy and life. Born in Buenos Aires, Rabbi Biermacher, 45, moved to Israel five years ago.

Anyone who knew him felt his total passion for learning Torah and connecting Jews to the depth and beauty of their Jewish heritage. His genuine love for every Jew and excitement for Jewish learning penetrated young disengaged students.

On the morning that he was murdered, Rabbi Biermacher was teaching a group of 16-year-old boys from Panama in the beit medrash, like any typical group of teenagers not the easiest to reach and get their attention. He was teaching them a piece from the Talmud when their madrich came by and told the rabbi to stop and give the students a break.

“No! We don’t want a break. This is the best class of the day!” the students said. Rabbi Biermacher’s passion for Torah naturally exuded forth, creating an exhilarating experience that spoke to a group of 16-year-old boys.

The funeral was very late at night. After a number of heart-rending eulogies in Telzestone, where the Biermacher family lives, many people went to the Har Menuchos cemetery to escort the rabbi on his final journey. It was 2 AM and Yehoshua Lewin, a faculty member of the Aish HaTorah Spanish program, was surprised to see an 18-year-old South American student who had left the yeshiva over six months ago at the funeral.

This was a student who was not in Rabbi Biermacher’s class during the time he was at Aish.

The student explained what he was doing there standing by his graveside at 2 in the morning. He said he had no connection with the rabbi, except for one incident. He was in the dining room eating lunch, complaining about the food. Rabbi Biermacher overheard his comment and took him out to buy him a falafel. “I didn’t even know this rabbi, yet he took me out and bought me lunch! And while I was eating he told me I shouldn’t be so picky about food. A man like that – how could I not come to his funeral?”

Rabbi Biermacher made a strong, personal connection with every student because he genuinely loved and cared for them. The Aish HaTorah family, the entire Jewish people, cry out in pain over this unimaginable loss. We grieve with Biermacher family. In response to this tragedy, let us strengthen our commitment to Rabbi Biermacher's mission to strive to be the greatest Jew you can be and to share the light of Torah with the entire Jewish nation. Consider taking on a specific additional mitzvah for the next 30 days during Sheloshim. May the Almighty save us from more sorrow.

Readers can send their condolences to the family in the comment section below.

You can help the Biermacher family. Please click here to give much-needed support.

Grieving the Loss of a Family Member

By Yissca Schiff, a daughter of an Aish HaTorah Rabbi

Having taught his students at Aish HaTorah this morning, Rabbi Reuven Biermacher was making his way out of the Old City when his journey was cut short. He was murdered in cold blood by two Arab terrorists.

At the graveside.

He had just completed the ultimate mitzvah, sharing his love of God, Torah and Judaism to his students. As an Aish Rabbi, the goal is bring Jews from all backgrounds closer to their heritage. The mission statement by which he lived until the very end.

My father is a rabbi at Aish UK so I have an inkling about what Rabbi Biermacher believed with every fiber of his being. I've never heard of him until today, but I do know that he lived and breathed Truth. He had a burning passion to spread the light of Torah, and help awaken and ignite that spark that rests in every single Jew. I have no doubt that when he woke up this morning his thoughts were those of determination and perseverance, focus and resolution. I am sure that his wife and seven beautiful children were waiting for their dear father to come home this afternoon and for him to tell them how he had changed the world today; how he had asked a student how he was doing, how his mother was back home, and how that genuine care had touched and moved his student more than ever before. And I am sure that his wife and children will now treasure all those late afternoons when father used to return home.

When he used to return home. That change into past tense is a real tough one. It stares at you right in the face. There's no avoiding the hard, cold facts: that an Arab terrorist attacked three human beings, two of whom will never have the chance to tell their families how much they loved them. How could a human being look another in the eye and end his life for no reason? Oh wait, there is a reason - Rabbi Biermacher committed the outrage of being a Jew. How gut wrenching is it that someone could devote his life to God and to living in His ways, that someone could want to teach others how to be moral and upright.

Rabbi Biermacher being a Jew is not a piece of background information. It was his essence. Therefore he is my brother. My cousin. My teacher. Now I am grieving the loss of a family member. I am grieving the loss of a valued member of Klal Yisrael. I am grieving the loss of a vital player in the Aish family. Think of how many souls he has prevented from assimilating, how many links in the chain that could have been broken now remain intact, ensuring the perpetuity of the eternal bond that is Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.

Rabbi Biermacher, your students, their future children, grandchildren and greats, literally owe you their everything – because you have given them everything. Without you, your students may not have decided to have Jewish children, and they would be so much poorer.

Now, alas, we are without you, and there is a gaping chasm in our hearts. We will honor your name, of blessed memory. We will honor you through continuing your mission.

Remembering Ofer Ben Ari

By David Rapoport

Ofer Ben Ari, 46, was tragically killed by police gunfire as he heroically intervened to prevent a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, outside Jaffa Gate. David Rapoport recalls his encounter with Ofer.   

We only knew Ofer for a very short time, but our encounter with him left a deep impression on us, therefore we want to share this story.

We recently moved to a new home in Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimmel. Ofer gave us the cheapest quote for window screens. He came to take measurements and said he would return in a week, which he did.

After Ofer had installed the screens on our house, I mistakenly wrote out a check for an amount that was higher than we had initially agreed upon. I gave him the check and he left. A short while later, having realized that I had overpaid, my wife called him. He looked at the check and said that he also thought that the amount was incorrect.

He immediately pulled his car over in order to write down our bank details. Within an hour he had wired the difference to our account and faxed us a copy of the transfer. He did so before he had even cashed our check; he barely knew us or whether our check would clear.

Ofer Ben-Ari (Courtesy)For the brief time we met, I saw that Ofer was good-natured, had a positive demeanor and was a genuinely nice person. He conducted himself with honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.

The Talmud (Shabbos 31a) states that when a person is led into judgment in the next world, the first question they will be asked is "Did you conduct business transactions faithfully?" We can certainly attest that he did so.

Ofer Ben Ari died while trying to save others during Wednesday’s terrorist attack at Jaffa Gate.

May Hashem comfort his family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Readers can send their condolences to the family in the comment section below.

You can help the Biermacher family. Please click here to give much-needed support.

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