Jerusalem (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – It was an emotional meeting as a family mourning the death of their 13 year old son met with the Druze police officer who saved the life of their ten year old in Meron last week.
Ynet (https://bit.ly/3nNrQjt) reported that Rabbi Avigdor Hayut asked to meet Sergeant Rami Alwan to thank him for rescuing his young son Shmuel from the stampede. Arriving with his father, Sergeant Major Kamal Alwan to pay his respects to the Hayut family as they sat shiva on Monday, Alwan told Rabbi Hayut that no training exercises could have possibly prepared police for what took place on Lag B’Omer.
“As a police officer, I have been through a lot but this was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced,” said Alwan. “Above all, we are people and I was raised on values and the value of human life is the highest of all.”
Both Rabbi Hayut and Alwan both shared their recollections of the fatal stampede.
Rabbi Hayut, a 36 year old Bnei Brak resident, explained that it was the first time had taken his sons to Meron, the three joined by a young friend who was also one of his students. After the Toldos Aharon bonfire lighting, Rabbi Hayut realized that the area was extraordinarily crowded and decided to leave because it seemed unsafe for the boys.
“When we got to the ramp leading down the passageway, a human landslide started and my older son and his friend were separated from us,” said Rabbi Hayut. “I found myself on my back on the floor with my younger son, with more and more people falling on top of us. I heard my son calling out ‘Abba I am dead,’ and screaming ‘Shema Yisroel.’”
Rabbi Hayut called Shmuel’s name and poured water on him, but the boy had stopped moving and it was clear that he had just minutes left to live. At that moment, Alwan appeared to pull him out of the crush, screaming at Rabbi Hayut to grab hold of his outstretched hand, but he told Alwan to save his son instead.
“I tried pulling them both out but I couldn’t,” said Alwan. “I tried pulling Shmuel out alone and another officer came and helped me.”
Alwan described how at first Shmuel was completely immobile and he feared the worst. After taking the boy for treatment, he returned to rescue Rabbi Hayut as the chaos and the screams continued in the corridor. Only after observing Alwan after being freed from the crowd, did Rabbi Hayut first begin to comprehend the extent of the horror that had unfolded.
“I saw him vomit and start crying and while everyone was screaming ‘accident,’ I realized from his reaction that something terrible had happened,” said Rabbi Hayut.
Both Yedidya Hayut and his friend,14 year old Moshe Levy, died in the stampede. Rabbi Hayut expressed his gratitude to Alwan, saying that he had no doubt that neither he nor Shmuel would have survived without his assistance and telling him that saving even a single Jewish life is akin to saving an entire world.
“Rami, you saved my son,” said Rabbi Hayut. “For me it as if you saved the whole world.”