The Attack

"Mi'she'nichnas Adar marbim basimchah."
     — "From the onset of the month of Adar, rejoicing increases." (Ta'anit 29a)

memorial-candles It was Thursday night, March 6, 2008, and an evening of dancing and rejoicing was about to begin, for the month of Adar had arrived, the month in which the evil decree of Haman was overturned and the Jewish People was saved.


Yashlatz students began to prepare their beit midrash for the party by clearing away chairs and stenders. Others prepared decorations in the nearby dormitory, while still others organized refreshments.


At the adjacent yeshivah gevohah, Mercaz HaRav, students learned in the beit midrash and in the yeshiva library. Students gathered for a class in one of the library's classrooms. In the courtyard, young students from both yeshivot spoke, sharing their conclusions of a long day of learning, unwinding in the pleasant evening air.


Several young Yashlatz students, keen to continue their studies despite the transformation their beit midrash was undergoing, went to the Mercaz HaRav library to study quietly alongside their Mercaz HaRav counterparts.


At approximately 8:30 p.m., a terrorist entered the Mercaz HaRav Yeshivah grounds. He came into the front courtyard carrying a cardboard television box. He set the box down on the railing of the steps leading up to the dormitory building entrance.


He took a kalishnikov rifle out of the box, and opened automatic fire on the group of students at the entrance to the yeshivah. Among them was Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld, Hy"d, Ro'i Roth, Hy"d, and Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, Hy"d.


He then entered the stairwell of the Mercaz HaRav dormitory, where he encountered and killed Ro'ee Roth, Hy"d. He tried the library door in the stairwell, and, finding it locked, went back outside and across the courtyard to the main entrance to the library.

Please visit our fallen on the
"Wall of Names"

In the library, the campaign of murder continued. The terrorist began shooting wildly in all directions. Most of the students in the library, who had heard the first round of shooting outside, had already gotten up from the tables and hidden behind and between the bookshelves. A few fled to the classroom in which the students who were waiting for a class had barricaded themselves behind the door.


Doron Maharate Hy"d, was the first one targeted in the library—he was so immersed in his studies that he hadn't even left his desk.



Unfortunately, the bookshelves were a death trap. The terrorist proceeded to walk down the aisles between the shelves, shooting at the books and anyone hiding behind them. Some boys fled, sustaining non-fatal gunwounds, burns, and minor injuries from ricocheting bullets.


The gunman then tried the door to the classroom and, finding it barricaded, concluded it was locked and empty. In fact, it was full of students praying fervently but silently to be spared.


The gunman then went back to the first row of shelves and retraced his path, shooting again point blank at those who could not flee, in a merciless attempt to confirm fatalities. Miraculously, several of these boys survived this vicious attack, sustaining very serious injuries, and four more students were thus murdered, sifrei kodesh in their hands: Segev Peniel Avichail, Hy"d, Yochai Lifshitz, Hy"d, Avraham David Moses, Hy"d, and Neriya Cohen, Hy"d.


At the first sound of gunfire, students in areas adjacent to the attack also feared for their lives. Those in the Mercaz HaRav beit midrash laid low or escaped, and were offered shelter in nearby apartment buildings. Yashlatz students took cover in their dormitory building.


Approximately fifteen minutes after he fired the first shot, the terrorist was shot and killed by Yitzchak Dadon, a student of Mercaz HaRav, and Captain David Shapira, a Yashlatz graduate who lives in the neighborhood.



On Friday, the day after the attack, a collective funeral service was held for all eight victims in the courtyard that is situated between Mercaz HaRav and Yashlatz. The ceremony was attended by the families of the slain, the yeshivah students, their Rabbis, and thousands of the general public from all walks of life, who came to express their pain and shock at the terrible loss.


It was a unique sight – so many different kinds of people gathered together, sharing the same sorrow over the calamity that had befallen Am Yisrael.


Over the course of the following week, many of those people, along with the yeshivah students, visited the bereaved families in their homes, offering their consolation and attempting themselves to cope with the great loss.


"It is our duty to try to make up for the great loss of Torah that would have been studied by these eight Kedoshim."

- Rav Yerachmiel Weiss

Both Yashlatz and Mercaz tried to return to a regular routine as quickly as possible, while offering special classes and arranging for support for the students to help them deal with the deaths of their friends and the breech of their safety.


Today, we stand on our feet and are continuing our studies. There is a pain and a loss that will never fully heal, yet Torah and emunah are our standard, as we pray for the Final Redemption.


Read a transcript of Rav Weiss’s moving interview with Ilana Dayan on “Mi Sh’midaber,” following the attack.





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