Funeral Held for 7 Victims of Collision

Large crowd of mourners braves scorching heat to bury victims of Thursday's fatal crash between a minibus and a passenger train.

The magnitude of Thursday's tragedy in which seven people from one family were killed when a train collided with a minibus near Kibbutz Gat,was apparent in virtually every aspect of the funeral held the next day.

A large crowd of mourners accompanied the dead to their final resting place in a Jerusalem cemetery, despite the scorching heat. There was no one burial society (hevra kadisha, in Hebrew ) with sufficient capacity to transport the remains of seven people, and so three different burial societies assisted in the efforts.

Kibbutz Gat train accident
Ilan Asayag

The accident, which took the lives of seven members of the Bernstein family, occurred when the driver of the minibus in which they were traveling reportedly crashed through a barrier at a train crossing; the vehicle was then hit by an oncoming train.

The victims have been identified as Aryeh Bernstein, his wife Rivka, four of their children - Mali Gottstein and Yohanan, Haya and Moti Bernstein - as well as Mali's son Mordechai Aharon. The boy's father, David Zvi Gottstein, survived the accident, but was hospitalized with injuries at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and did not attend the funeral.

At the time of the crash, the members of the family, who lived in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Ilit, were on their way to spend Shabbat at Moshav Komemiyut. The driver of the van, also a Beitar Ilit resident, survived the accident. On Friday his remand was extended by five days.

The funeral procession wound its way from Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood to the Givat Shaul cemetery. The family is affiliated with the Karlin branch of Hasidism, and the funeral was attended by deputy ministers and Knesset members from the United Torah Judaism party. The ultra-Orthodox Radio Kol Chai suspended its regular programming during the funeral, playing subdued music instead.

Victim Aryeh Bernstein had been a volunteer with the Zaka rescue organization, which in recent years had made great efforts to promote safety issues during the summer months in ultra-Orthodox communities.