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Massachusetts Native Ezra Schwartz, 18, Murdered in Israel

A Yeshiva student on a gap year, Schwartz was volunteering in the West Bank when he was killed by a Palestinian gunman

Hannah Vaitsblit
November 19, 2015
Photo taken by Aliza Abolafia; Facebook
Photo taken by Aliza Abolafia; Facebook
Photo taken by Aliza Abolafia; Facebook
Photo taken by Aliza Abolafia; Facebook

The 18-year-old American student killed by a Palestinian man in the West Bank on Thursday has been identified as Ezra Schwartz, a Sharon, Massachusetts, native who was on a gap year in Israel. A representative at Maimonides School, a Jewish day school in Brookline, MA, where Schwartz was once a student, confirmed the report.

Schwartz was enrolled at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh and was reportedly volunteering with classmates, handing out food to soldiers, when he was gunned down by an assailant who opened fire from his vehicle outside of Alon Shvut, a Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion. Schwartz had just celebrated his 18th birthday in October.

Schwartz was the second oldest of five siblings. On Thursday, his friends and loved ones shared tributes on Facebook. “I have had the pleasure of being Ezra’s teammate the past two seasons,” wrote Doni Berg, who played baseball with Schwartz. “He always kept a smile on my face.”

“[Ezra] was known for his morale, dedication, and positive outlook,” wrote Elisha Jacobs, now a student at NYU.

Schwartz attended Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire, where he also served as a counselor. At camp, Corey Robins wrote that it was rare to see Schwartz without a smile on his face. “You were one of the happiest, energetic, and most fun campers I have ever had,” Robins, Schwartz’s former camp counselor, wrote in a Facebook post. “An incredible, amazing kid.”

Schwartz’s friend, Josh Pitkoff, shared a video of Schwartz reciting a scene from Harry Potter with perfect accuracy, a living commemoration.

A 51-year-old Israeli man and a 40-year-old Palestinian man were also killed in the same shooting and car ramming attack. Another five people, including American nationals, were reportedly wounded. Earlier on Thursday, a Palestinian man stabbed three people in Tel Aviv, killing two.

Hannah Vaitsblit is an intern at Tablet.