Slain teenager's family tells Ha'aretz of Yoni's 'love for Israel'
Several hundred mourners attended the funeral Friday of 19-year-old Scottish yeshiva student Yoni Jesner, whose life-support machine was switched off earlier that day, bringing the death toll of Thursday's suicide bus bombing in Tel Aviv to six.
Relatives described Jesner, who suffered critical head injuries in the blast, as "a pillar" of the Jewish community in Glasgow where he grew up. Scores of teenagers sobbed as Jesner was eulogized by his elder brother, by Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior and by Rabbi Aharon Liechtenstein, the head of Har Etzion Yeshiva in Gush Etzion, where Jesner had been studying.
"It was your love of Judaism and Israel that brought you here to study and your love of mankind that should have taken you to medical school," said Jesner's older brother Ari. He and 10 other family members had arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport at 5 A.M. where they were met by British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles.
Melchior noted that Jesner had postponed the start of his medical training to continue his study at the yeshiva for a second year and that his organs had been donated "so there could be life and hope for many other people."
Before the funeral, Jesner's brother Ari told Ha'aretz the family had chosen to bury Yoni in Israel because of his love for the country. He said Yoni had viewed terrorism in "the way that normal Israelis do. He saw it as something you can't run away from - you can't run away from home."
Jesner had headed the religious Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva in Scotland, organized youth services at his synagogue and helped out in the Glasgow kollel and hevra kadisha, said Ari.
"Yoni was a big doer. Just being a schoolboy was never enough for him, he always took on way too much more than any normal person could handle. None of us could ever understand how he ever had time for his school work, but he was a straight-A student."
According to Ari, Yoni's death is further proof of the indiscriminate nature of terror. "He was an innocent civilian. It doesn't matter who you are. He was killed because he was Jewish. He wasn't even an Israeli."
Jesner's other brother Jared told Ha'aretz Yoni had been the one to push his siblings to visit their late grandfather every Shabbat. "Even though he was younger than us, he was always showing us the right thing to do. He did more good in his 20 years than I will probably do in my whole life."
Jesner's first cousin and best friend, Gideon Black, 19, from London, who was sitting alongside him in the middle of the bus at the time of the blast and sustained moderate abdominal injuries, was released from hospital to attend the funeral.
The two had been on their way to a Tel Aviv hotel to spend the Sukkot holiday with Black's family when the suicide bomber boarded the bus. Speaking on Friday to Ha'aretz, Black said he was "still numb" and the loss of his cousin had yet to sink in.
"I'm not crying or wailing," said Black. "I'm just stunned, frozen. I don't know if and when it will hit me, but there will definitely be a huge void in my life." He said he and his cousin loved their studies and felt they were helping Israel "spiritually and economically" by being here. "I really hope it won't put people off coming here," he added.
Other mourners at the funeral included numerous immigrants from Britain, the large majority of whom knew Jesner or a member of his family personally. One Scottish-born mourner commented that the Jesner family was synonymous with the Jewish community of Glasgow saying, "Wherever you go in the world and you say you're from Glasgow, people ask if you know the Jesners."