Yossi Kohn of Cleveland Heights was among those killed in the April 30 tragedy that left 45 people dead during a Lag b’Omer festival at Mount Meron in Israel.
Kohn, 21, was the son of Chaya Gitty Kohn, who is the seventh- and eighth-grade principal at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland’s Beatrice Stone Yavne High School in Beachwood.
He attended Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, which is now Yeshiva Derech HaTorah, in Cleveland Heights and then Telshe Yeshiva in Wickliffe.
He was in Israel studying toward ordination at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Mordechai Kaplovitz, a friend of the family, told the Cleveland Jewish News April 30 Kohn was a “very honest, straightforward young man” and was a caring individual who went out of his way to assist others.
“He was very helpful whenever any of the neighbors needed any help with putting up a sukkah or taking down a sukkah,” Kaplovitz said, adding he did heavy lifting as well.
Rabbi Simcha Dessler, education director of Hebrew Academy, sent this statement to families of the academy:
“The Torah world was shocked beyond words to hear of the horrific tragedy that took place in Meron,” Dessler wrote. “Particularly heartbreaking is when such news hits closer to home. … Words alone could never express our deepest pain and heartfelt condolences to the Kohn family upon their devastating loss. Yossi was particularly blessed with a unique sense of … charm. He endeared himself to all, was beloved by all, and will be remembered by all.”
“Lag BaOmer is the day that we celebrate the resilience of Klal Yisrael (the people Israel) who lost 24,000 (students) of Rabbi Akiva and immediately proceeded to build a new world of (scholars).
“As we usher in Shabbos, the day of (rest), let us all think of and (pray) for the countless families who are also ushering in Shabbos, but sadly, without their loved ones. Wishing us all the ability to share … only good news in the future.”
Dessler told the CJN April 30 Kohn, “endeared himself to whoever he met so much so that one individual posted after his passing that he only met him once in his life and he feels like he was a friend for life which is something unique about him.
More than 150 people were injured during a stampede, where more than 100,000 worshipers had gathered.
The stampede erupted around 1 a.m. as people began to leave and thronged a narrow, tunnel-like passage, and according to witnesses, people began to fall on a slippery ramp, causing others to trip and sparking panic, according to The Associated Press.
Kohn’s father, Menachem Kohn, died when in a car accident in New York’s Catskills several years ago.
“His family’s been through a lot,” said Dessler, who was on his way to visit Kohn’s mother in New Jersey, where she was ready to board an El Al flight to Israel for mourners the evening of May 1.
“I’m going to meet her … just to offer whatever humble consolation that I could to let her know that the community is there for her,” he said.
In addition to his mother, Chaya Gitty Kohn of Cleveland Heights, Kohn is survived by three brothers: Ari (Ahuva Stepner) Kohn, Pinchos (Esther Schondorf) Kohn, both of Lakewood, N.J., and Moshe Kohn, who is a student in New Jersey; and five sisters, Kayla (Elimelech) Leshkovitz, Malya (Heshi) Blumenfrucht, Chavi (Yosef) Blumenkrantz, Esther (Meir) Landau, all of Lakewood, N.J., and Sorah Kohn of Cleveland Heights.
The family belongs to K’hal Yereim in Cleveland Heights.
Kohn will be buried in Bnei Brak, Israel, May 2, with shiva in Israel May 2 and to continue in Lakewood, N.J., May 3.
This is a developing story.