Motti Gerber, a 27-year-old resident of the haredi town of Elad, was trampled to death and four others, including a 14-year-old boy, were critically or seriously wounded at the Bnei Brak funeral of 101-year-old Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner, the top posek (decisor of Orthodox Jewish law) for most hasidic communities worldwide.
Above: Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner
1 Dead, 3 Others Critically Or Seriously Injured, Over 100 More Wounded Or Ill At Funeral Of Top Haredi Rabbinic Leader
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Motti Gerber, a 27-year-old resident of the haredi town of Elad, was trampled to death and four others, including a 14-year-old boy, were critically or seriously wounded at the Bnei Brak funeral of 101-year-old Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner, the top posek (decisor of Orthodox Jewish law) for most hasidic communities worldwide, Ha’aretz and other Israeli media reported.
More than 100 other people were treated by paramedics from Israel’s version of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, over the course of the funeral – 11 alone from that same trampling incident that killed Gerber – which began in the early pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning.
Wosner died just after Passover started Friday night in the Bnei Brak hospital he had been hospitalized in since Purim.
Tens of thousands of people crowded into the funeral procession and swarmed the front of the yeshiva building where Wosner taught and held court.
The massive overcrowding in front of the yeshiva caused a man to trip and fall. Several others fell with him and were then trampled by the large crowd.
Paramedics were called at approximately 1:30 am.
Gerber was rushed to Ichilov Hospital in critical condition with injuries to his chest and stomach. He was declared dead there shortly after arrival.
An 18-year-old man has critical head and chest injuries and is hospitalized a t a Beilinson Hospital and a 14-year-old boy is reportedly in serious condition in pediatric intensive care in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. He is reportedly anesthetized and on a respirator. A 36-year-old man with serious head injuries was taken to Beilinson Hospital and is also anesthetized and on a respirator.
Tel Aviv District Police have ordered an investigation of the funeral and the conduct of its organizers. Conduct of the local police will also be examined, according to some reports.
Haredi media has been quick to blame police for lack of crowd control – even though it is clear that like in many other instances before this one, the haredim planning and running the event failed to adequately take public safety into account – if they even did so at all.
Police reportedly feared trampling would take place at the cemetery and, to prevent it, they took down a wall there ahaed of the funeral to make the space less confined. But there was nothing they could do to make the narrow area in front of Wosner’s yeshiva wider or larger. That area and the surrounding streets are so narrow, mounted officers could not be safely used, and police sources said introducing teams of officers into that small area would have likely caused even more injuries and possibly deaths.
While tramplings have happened at large secular music events and the like, most happen due to a sudden impetus – a fire or gunshots, for example – and crowd control at large sporting and music events is a high priority for organizers, police, stadium designers and architects.
But in haredi society, these matters are often given little thought and relevant city building, fire and safety codes are often ignored. At the same time, haredi bloc voting makes government enforcement of those laws and regulations meant to ensure public safety much more unlikely to be enforced than would otherwise be the case. And because haredi schools do not teach public safety, civics or health, most haredim are wholly unfamiliar with what many other people would consider safe behavior at large public events. Haredi rabbis often consider all secular subjects – even public health and safety – to be bittul Torah (wasting time that should be devoted to Torah study). As a result, pushing and shoving are the norm at many haredi events, and that norm sometime leads to tragedy.