Multiple people killed in Friday’s deadly stampede in Israel hailed from New York and New Jersey, according to news reports.
The Consulate General of Israel in New York said four Americans had died in the stampede at Mount Meron in northern Israel during the holiday of Lag b’Omer, which killed at least 45 people and injured dozens more, ABC News reported.
Daniel Morris, 19, of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Shraga Gestetner, 33, of Monsey, New York, Yosef Amram Tauber, 18, of Monsey, and Eliezer Josef, 26, of Kiryas Joel, New York were identified among the dead, according to ABC News. Gastetner was originally from Montreal. The four were part of an estimated 100,000 people in attendance.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Donny Morris, son of Mirlana and Aryeh Morris of Bergenfield, was one of the victims of the tragic event that occurred yesterday in Meron, Israel,” the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey posted in social media accounts. “Donny was a graduate of the Marsha Stern Talmudic Academy (MTA) and studying in Israel for his gap year. Our deepest condolences go to the Morris family. May Donny's memory only be for a blessing.”
The holiday, which the New York Times said "is linked in Jewish tradition to the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in the second century A.D." had attracted an estimated 100,000 participants to the tomb of a revered rabbi on Mount Meron Thursday with festivities lasting into early Friday. The stampede reportedly broke out “after celebrants slipped on stone steps leading into a narrow passageway with a metal-floored slope, setting off what the news site Ynet described as a “‘human avalanche’’,” the Times said.
One former pilgrim described his 2009 experience celebrating Lag b’Omer at Mount Meron in the Forward as “revelers radiating elation and excitement, through the swirling Hora circles that inhale you like a tornado. It’s rowdy, sweaty, claustrophobic.”
"Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of the terrible tragedy that took place last night during Lag B'Omer celebrations in Meron, Israel," Israel Nitzan, Acting Consul General, said in a statement to ABC News. "We pray everyone who was injured on Lag B'Omer recovers quickly, and we will provide assistance in any way we can to the families impacted."