A Scottish teenager was listed in critical condition in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital last night after being wounded in yesterday's bus bombing on Allenby Street in central Tel Aviv. His cousin was also in Ichilov with moderate wounds sustained in the same blast.
Jonathan (Yoni) Jesner, 19, from Glasgow, was hospitalized with serious head injuries. Jesner's father, a resident of Jerusalem, was already at his son's side, and other family members were on their way from Scotland and the United States last night.
His first cousin and best friend, Glasgow-born Gideon Black, 18, who lives in London, was sitting alongside Jesner in the middle of the bus at the time of the blast. Last night he was lying in another ward in the same hospital with abdominal injuries, described by doctors as not life-threatening.
The Black family from London were at Gideon's bedside at Ichilov last night. His parents and twin sisters were already in Israel for a week-long holiday together over Sukkot. "We're just so worried about our cousin, Yoni," one of Black's sisters told Ha'aretz.
Both youths were in the second year of an intensive talmudic studies program near Jerusalem and had come to Tel Aviv to meet their families.
The Jewish community of Glasgow was said to be "in total shock" last night as news of Jesner's condition spread. He is a former head of the religious Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva in Scotland, and his family is well-known in the community.
The British Ambassador to Israel, Sherard Cowper-Coles, spoke to one of the families last night and plans to visit the boys in hospital this morning, an embassy spokesman said last night. Embassy staff will be meeting the families of the injured at the airport, the spokesman added.
A serious student, a fun friend and a brown belt in karate, Jesner planned to attend medical school in London after finishing his second year at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a hesder yeshiva in Gush Etzion, near Jerusalem. Afterward, a friend says, he was planning to immigrate to Israel.
Jesner's American-born hevruta (Talmud study) partner, who wished to remain anonymous, said Yoni had battled hard to postpone the start of his medical training at University College Hospital in London, in order to extend his yeshiva studies for a second year.
Rabbi Aharon Liechtenstein, dean of the yeshiva, and other rabbis and about 30 students were keeping a vigil last night at the hospital, praying for Jesner's recovery.
"Yoni and Gideon take their learning seriously, but they also go out and about a bit," said Richard Hyman, 18, from Manchester, a friend from the yeshiva. According to Bernard Freudenthal, 18, from London, "Yoni is extremely popular, an amazing counselor in Bnei Akiva. They are both very similar in their personalities."
Friends said that the two cousins are "very close, like brothers."
Asher Shafrir, an Israeli hesder student, said Jesner is popular with both Israeli and overseas students, who enjoy his humor and skill in mimicry - in Hebrew as well as English.
Rabbi Amnon Bazak, the two youths' tutor, said he hoped the attack would not affect the yeshiva's large overseas program. "If the attack had taken place around here [Alon Shvut] and not in Tel Aviv, it would have had a greater effect," Bazak said.
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