(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
Families and friends of the 10 youths killed in the flash flood at Nahal Tzafit on Thursday spoke of the promising young people who were lost, and prepared for a long day of funerals on Friday and into the weekend.
The funeral locations and times of eight of the dead were made public by the families.
The 10 students killed in the floods were in a group of 25 students on a hike organized by the Bnei Zion pre-military academy, named after an IDF soldier, Ben-Zion Shai Hadad, who was killed in 2006 in the Second Lebanon War. They were due to start the program in the coming year, and the hike was intended as a pre-program bonding excursion.
The pre-military academy’s hike went ahead despite warnings of life-threatening weather conditions. Nine girls and one boy were killed when the group was hit by flash floods in Nahal Tzafit, a riverbed in the southern Dead Sea area.
Nine of the teenagers’ bodies were found in the course of the afternoon and evening on Thursday, and the tenth was discovered early on Friday morning.
Ella Or from Ma’ale Adumim is to be buried at noon on Friday at the Mishor Adumim cemetery.
Or “was one of the best students,” her principal said. “She was a girl who could take responsibility and who was always eager to help and act on behalf of others.”
Her five siblings also publicized a statement about her. “You were the youngest girl in our family,” they wrote. “The most beautiful flower, the most charming and [with the] sweet[est] smile, always caring, always embracing, always optimistic, the most talented and successful sister in the family.”
Romi Cohen of Maor, near Hadera, will be buried at noon at the village’s cemetery.
Tzur Alfi, the only boy who was killed, from the central town of Mazkeret Batya, will be buried at noon in the town’s cemetery.
Alfi was “a fantastic kid, athletic, and just three weeks ago he starred in a theater performance,” Meir Dahan, head of Mazkeret Batya Regional Council, told the Ynet news site. “A child with values, a sociable person who aspired to be an educator.”
“He always thought about others first,” said Liri Uriel, a close friend. She told the Kan public broadcaster that survivors of the flood explained how Tzur had saved their lives. “He was caught on a large rock and could have climbed to safety, but he let friends climb on him to get out. That was Tzur. As soon as we heard there were nine girls and a boy killed, we knew it was him. If he could do it over again, he would have done the same thing.”
Yael Ben Yosef, the mother of Tomer Ben Yosef, who was accepted to the Bnei Zion academy but could not join Thursday’s hike because he had school exams, said she and her son were “going to Tzur Alfi’s funeral. He and Tomer connected, and he talked about Tzur being an ‘amazing guy.’ They were together all the time. I can’t bring myself to think of what could have happened if they were both there on the hike.”
Yael Sadan from Jerusalem will be buried at 12:30 p.m. at the city’s Givat Shaul Cemetery.
The death of Sadan, a graduating dance student in Jerusalem’s High School for the Arts, was announced by the school on its Facebook page.
“She was a stunning, smiling girl with a sense of humor, a talented dancer and a skilled choreographer,” said her dance teacher, Lian Yaffa Siegfeld. “It was always fun to be with her.”
Maayan Barhum from Jerusalem will be buried at the same time as Sadan, 12:30 p.m., at Givat Shaul Cemetery.
Agam Levy from the central Israeli town of Herut, will be buried at 12:30 at the Lev Hasharon-Tel Mond Cemetery.
“Agam was persistent, studious and endlessly volunteering,” Ilan Mayer, her grandfather, told the Walla news site. “She got back a year and a half ago from volunteering in Africa, where she tutored sick children. Then she went to volunteer in Vietnam, teaching in a school. She was a talented girl, volunteering was part of who she was.”
Shani Shamir from the central city of Shoham will be buried at 1 p.m. in the Beit Arif Cemetery outside the city.
Shoham’s mayor Gil Livneh told the Kan public broadcaster that “Shani was the daughter every parent hopes for. Smiling, wise, brilliant, a leader. She was a member of the regional youth council, coordinated the youth counselors in the [Scouts] group. Loved by all her friends. This disaster is incomprehensible.”
Ilan Bar Shalom
Ilan Bar Shalom from Rishon Lezion will be buried at 2:30 p.m. at the civil cemetery in the city.
Ilan was a 12th grade student at the Amal Comprehensive School in Rishon Lezion. She was an excelling youth counselor, the city said in a statement.
Adi Raanan of the northern village of Mikhmoret will be buried on Sunday at 6 p.m. at the village’s cemetery.
Adi’s parents were overseas when the disaster struck.
Adi’s grandfather, Asher Green, wrote on Friday: “A great disaster has befallen us, and naturally we’re still struggling to understand the terrible news. Our wonderful granddaughter’s parents are now headed back to Israel.”
He asked that media and well-wishers “respect our privacy” as the family grieves.
The funeral of Gali Balali from the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim is not yet scheduled, and may be delayed until Sunday, according to Hebrew media reports.
Yedidia, one of Balali’s teachers, told the Kan public broadcaster Friday that she was “an amazing girl, with values, who always rushed to help, even before being asked. Always smiling, always helping, always connecting people. When they say that God takes the good ones, it turns out that’s not a cliché.”
Alon Hakak, a friend of Gali’s, said, “I live in Ramat Gan and she lived in [neighboring] Givatayim,” and the two were active in volunteer work together. “The happiness we had together turned today to great sadness. This is such a great loss. Gali was a kind of model we all emulated. She inspired us, and we’re going to remember her for a long time. It hurts that she’s not here.