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News :: Human Rights : International
An American Murdered
16 May 2006
Jews in Florida mourned the loss of a Weston teenager killed by a suicide bomber. They vowed to maintain their commitment to Israel.
Daniel Wultz's classmates wore handmade string bracelets with blue and white beads to show solidarity in recent weeks with the 16-year-old as he lay in an Israeli hospital clinging to life. The students had hoped to remove the bracelets when Daniel returned home to Weston.
But on Sunday, students at David Posnack Hebrew Day School learned that Daniel would never come back to school. After a solemn prayer service Monday, the sophomores in Daniel's class cut off their bracelets and gathered them in a box to give to his parents today.
''In the past weeks, we asked ourselves why, why Daniel, how could someone of such character, such faith in God be taken from us?'' a student read at Monday's service at the Plantation school. ``How and why should we still have this faith?''
These are questions that Jews asked themselves throughout South Florida Monday as they prayed, cried and reflected on Daniel's death. But vowing not to let the terrorists win, they renewed their commitment to Israel.
In Jerusalem, Daniel's parents, Tuly and Sheryl Wultz, and his sister, Amanda, were joined by hundreds of mourners packed into a synagogue to remember a boy who loved basketball and dreamed of becoming a rabbi.
Daniel's father, Tuly, whose leg was injured in the blast that ultimately killed Daniel, walked to the casket using a cane.
''You left us, Daniel. You gave the fight of your life. I was honored to be your father,'' he said, sobbing, according to an Associated Press account of the service.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones placed a folded U.S. flag on top of Daniel's simple wooden casket. Esti Wultz, Daniel's aunt, then draped a small Israeli flag over one end of the casket.
Daniel died from organ failure Sunday, the result of wounds he suffered in a suicide attack April 17 at a Tel Aviv restaurant. Daniel had traveled with his family to Israel to visit relatives for the Passover holiday. The teenager was one of 11 victims killed in the attack or who died as a result of it.
Daniel's family was expected to return to Florida this morning and hold a private funeral service today in Weston followed by burial in Hollywood.
At the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Julie Malin, director of family and childrens services, said students in the after-school program were crestfallen that Daniel did not make it.
''They were planning on seeing him this summer,'' she said. ``It has touched every level of this community from the preschool to the older sector.''
Even those who did not know Daniel mourned his loss Monday.
''I haven't stopped thinking about it,'' said Jill Aranow, of Cooper City, as she worked out Monday at the JCC's gym. ``I'm just heartbroken.''
Aranow said her family ate at the Sbarro Pizza in Jerusalem in 2001 just weeks before it was the site of another suicide bombing, which killed more than a dozen people. Aranow said her son asked her Sunday if she still wants to return to Israel.
''Yes I do,'' she said. ``It's my obligation as a Jew.''
But others expressed fear.
Lee Neidorf, 19, has been considering going to Israel this winter with Birthright, an organization that takes young Jews to Israel.
''I'm thinking twice whether or not I'm going to go,'' he said, in between sets lifting weights at the JCC.
At the Posnack school, sixth- and seventh-graders lined the balcony overlooking the courtyard where the older students held Monday's service.
Students read from prayerbooks, clutching each other and crying. Wearing a yarmulke skullcap and a tallis prayer shawl, a student lifted the Torah out of an ark. Laurence Kutler, head of the school, read a selection from Leviticus that is also found on the Liberty Bell: ``Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.''
Classes continued later in the day.
The school is usually loud, said Meira Maurice, a 13-year-old. But on Monday it was quiet and a lot of students were crying, she said.
''I still love Israel,'' said Meira, while at the JCC Monday afternoon. Meira lived in Israel until she was 8 years old. ``Bad things happen everywhere. . . . Not going isn't going to help.''
Temple Beth Torah in northeast Miami-Dade County recited a memorial prayer Monday morning. Daniel's grandparents are members of the temple, said Rabbi Ed Farber.
Several congregation families have children in Israel now, and another group of children will go in June.
''There are those thinking twice,'' Farber said. ``We remind them that they are going in a group, and then they are not allowed to put themselves in danger.''
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers killed Elias al Ashkar, the Islamic terrorist who the IDF believed orchestrated the attack that led to Daniel's death.
When doctors told Daniel's family the end was near Sunday morning, they gathered around his bedside and sang songs he loved, relatives said. When he died, they recited the Shema, a prayer central to Judaism.
After the service, Daniel's casket was carried to an ambulance as rabbis recited prayers and mourners wailed in grief, according to The AP's report.
Daniel's father walked down the street, said the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning, climbed into the ambulance and kissed the casket.
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