‘Almighty had other ideas’ for victim

Forty-five died in a crush near Mount Meron in northern Israel on Friday


The Heartbroken family of a Briton killed at last Friday's Lag B'Omer festival has told the JC that although the trainee rabbi had "a great future ahead of him" they accepted "without bitterness" that "the Almighty had other ideas".

The disaster claimed 45 lives in a crowded alley near Mount Meron in northern Israel on Friday.

The family explained how Moshe Bergman, aged 22, had been in Israel working towards his dream ambition of being a rabbi.

Moshe, of Kersal in Salford, Greater Manchester, had married his wife Shira only 18 months ago.

Now his shattered family have suffered the anguish of having to watch his funeral and burial – which took place in Jerusalem last Sunday - online.

Moshe's parents, Esther and Meir, his sister and his wife have all now arrived in Israel and have been able to sit shiva together.

In a moving statement given to the JC, the devastated family hailed Moshe an "uplifting" and "inspiring" young man.

They said: "His smile lit up a room and his cheerful countenance was uplifting and inspiring.

"He was a true and devoted friend to so many. Nothing was too much trouble for him.

"He was modest and unassuming, studious and hard working.

"He had a great future ahead of him but alas the Almighty had other ideas which we accept without question or bitterness - despite our grief and pain.

The grieving family added: "We do not wish to apportion blame for what was a tragic accident.

"Of course lessons must be learnt so that no family will have to suffer a similar tragedy in the future.

"We call upon the community both locally and in Israel to come together in a spirit of unity and reflection."

On Wednesday Moshe's grieving widow issued a statement insisting her husband died because of "G-d's will".

Speaking alongside her late husband's sister, Shira Bergman said: "We feel strongly and would like the world to recognise that the only reason why he died was because that was exactly what G-d in Heaven orchestrated, not because of physical reason.

"As we sit and cry, missing our beloved Moshe, we, the ones who feel the most pain, will never put any blame on a human lack of responsibility, lack of security or any physical reason. 

"Our precious One was taken by a G-d who loves us, and although we do not understand His ways, we believe that only G-d plans each part of our lives with love."

Neighbour and family friend Rabbi Arnold Saunders exclusively told the JC how whenever he saw Moshe he was sporting a huge smile.

Rabbi Saunders, also a local councillor in Salford, said: "I only went to his wedding 18 months ago as I've been a friend to the family for years.

"I knew his great-grandmother who was a French teacher and his grandparents. They are a wonderful family.

"Moshe's mother Esther teaches citizenship in Jewish schools in Manchester and several times she has asked me to come in and talk to her students in my role as a local councillor."

Describing Moshe, Rabbi Saunders went on: "Whenever I have seen him over the years he always had a big smile on his face.

"The photograph of him the family released, when he was initially just missing, is really poignant and sums him up - with a big beaming smile.

"He was a lovely young man, quiet and dedicated and studying in Israel. His life was all ahead of him.

"Moshe's elder brother is nearly finished his training to be a rabbi and he was following in his older brother's footsteps.

"He was a dedicated husband for the last 18 months, a wonderful son, brother and a caring and compassionate young man.

"He was the sort of person nobody would have a bad word to say about.

"He got on with everyone and you could rely on him for anything. He would do anything for anyone. His death is a terrible tragedy."

Rabbi Saunders spoke to Moshe's father Meir on the phone on Monday evening just as the secretary of President Reuven Rivlin arrived to console the family.

He told us: "I have not spoken to Shira his wife yet but the family are all bearing up tremendously well.

"I just spoke to Meir and as we chatted the secretary of the President walked in to see him. The family are receiving wonderful support.

"The family were devastated to learn that Moshe was a victim. The agonising wait for news - after he had been declared missing - compounded the anguish.

"But what is remarkable is the family hold no malice or bitterness about what happened.

"They do want an inquiry to make sure nothing like this happens again but they are not looking to apportion blame.

"They have accepted that this was a tragic accident and as people of faith accept the will of God. I was very inspired by their reaction.

"They are remarkable people who just wish to pay tribute to a wonderful and dedicated husband, son and brother."

Rabbi Saunders added that the family wished to thank authorities in Israel and the UK for their practical help and support - particularly local bereavement and welfare organisations such as Misaskim.

The family also requested that their right to privacy be respected during the week of shiva and mourning and beyond.

* NOTE - messages of condolences to the family may be sent to -  


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