'Like a Day in Which the Sun Disappears in Mid-afternoon'

Thousands of people attended the funerals early yesterday morning for five people - three children and two adults - killed in a fatal car crash Tuesday.

The five died when the car they were riding in swerved from its lane and hit a bus head-on on the Jordan Valley Highway near Moshav Argaman. They had been on their way back to Jerusalem from Lag Ba'omer celebrations at Mount Meron in the north.

"We are unable to understand, but we believe that God gives and God takes away," said members of Jerusalem's Bratslav ultra-Orthodox community, to which all five of the deceased belonged: Natan Franco, Naftali Vaknin and his sons Nahman and Natan, and Naftali-Herz Vidavsky.

Among the mourners were David Vidavsky, the driver of the ill-fated vehicle, who was injured in the accident but released from Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem to attend the funeral of his 8-year-old son, Naftali-Herz.

The procession embarked from Shamgar funeral home toward the Mount of Olives cemetery. Eulogies began only around 1 A.M., 90 minutes later than planned, due to difficulties encountered by ZAKA medical staff in identifying body parts of the victims.

Several people fainted during the ritual and were evacuated for medical care by Magen David Adom crews.

"Today is difficult, today is awful, like a day in which the sun disappears in mid-afternoon," said Rabbi Moshe Braverman. "When the sun suddenly stops shining and is put out forever, there is nothing more difficult. Five victims in mid-afternoon, in the midst of light, of hope, of their lives."

Rabbi Ze'ev Spitzer of the Ahavat Moshe yeshiva, where two of the deceased had been students, asked for "forgiveness and pardon, should we not have behaved with the necessary honor you deserved."