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By: 2LT Jesse (Yishai) Paquin, USAR

It was an emotional Shabbat. Through Divine Providence there was a Nissim Black concert in my backyard and I had a late night course to finish up for my rabbinical studies on erev Lag b’Omer. Otherwise, I would have been in Meron in the midnight hours. I woke up on Friday morning to a couple dozen messages asking if I am safe. One particular message was from Rabbi Kronenberg (COL USA
Ret), a member of the JWB’s Chaplain’s Council, asking me to help look for his grandson who was reported injured in Meron. Of course I helped; that’s what chaplains, rabbis, and Jews do. My wife and I started right away, calling everybody we could think of, hospitals, police, Hatzalah, MADA, etc. We even had people walking around the hospital with his picture searching for him and we used our connections at City Hall from our neighborhood emergency response team. Every time I saw a yeshiva bocher from out of town on the street, I asked them if they saw him. It was shortly before Shabbat that we found out that we were not going to be able to share good news because the young yeshiva student, Donny Morris zt”l, who we were looking for, was among the victims. We did everything we could.

It is a reality that sometimes no matter how much we want something, in this case to share good news with the family, that G-d has other plans. In shul on Erev Shabbos I hugged my friends with tears running down my face; half of them were in Meron at the time of the tragedy. I embraced all of my friends, happy to see them among the living. We cried with so much love. I prayed to Hashem. How could I not? I can’t fight with the Creator of the Universe. May Hashem comfort all of the mourners and may we learn from this tragedy.

Today I am going to the funeral, representing my fellow Jewish military chaplains. It’s amazing how connected we are.

Originally published in the Three Weeks 2021 issue of The Jewish American Warrior.