The New England Patriots on Monday night held a moment of silence for slain American teen Ezra Schwartz, prior to defeating the Buffalo Bills 20-13.
The football team linked his loss with that of American soldiers and placed his death within the context of the global battle against terror, but failed to mention that he had been killed either in the West Bank or Israel.
“Ladies and gentlemen in a month when the NFL salutes the service of our brave men and women in our armed services, we also pause to remember the many who have recently lost their lives in senseless terrorist attacks abroad.
“Last Thursday this reality struck close to home, when 18-year old Ezra Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts was gunned down nearly 5,500 miles from home while studying abroad.
“At this time we would like to honor Ezra Schwartz and hundreds of victims like him with a moment of silence,” the announcer told the thousands of people who filled their stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
As he spoke, a photo of Ezra, was shown on the large screens in the stadium.
The brief memorial to Ezra was broadcast to millions of viewers on the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
Ezra, was one of three people killed at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank last Thursday, when a Palestinian gunman shot at cars that were stuck in a traffic jam. He was spending his gap year studying at the Ashreinu yeshiva in Beit Shemesh before heading to Rutgers Business School in the fall.
Along with five of his friends, he had been on his way to volunteer at the educational nature reserve Oz V’Gaon, in the Gush Etzion region, named for the three teenagers who were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in June 2014.
Former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman told The Jerusalem Post that he had been inspired to ask Patriot’s owner, Jewish businessman Robert Kraft, to hold a moment of silence at the game after speaking with Ezra’s friends in Israel about his love of the game.
He knew it was the right idea when Ezra’s friends placed a Patriots jersey on the floor next to an Israeli flag, during a memorial service ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport on Saturday night. Ezra’s body was flown back to the US right after the services.
On Sunday, Lipman turned to Steve Leibowitz, who heads the American Football in Israel and asked him to pass on a letter to Kraft.
The ceremony struck a cord with Israelis, Lipman said, he viewed it as a show of solidarity by the American people with the Israeli battle against terror.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry personally called Ezra’s parents Ari and Ruth to offer them his condolences.
Prior to meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Kerry said, “I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school ready to go to college, excited about his future. And yesterday, his family was sitting at Shiva and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child,” Kerry said.
In New Jersey, Rutgers University on Monday lowered its flag to half mast in memory of Ezra and a 1995 college graduate Anita Datar, who was one of 21 victims of last Friday’s terror attack at the Radison Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali.
“Their tragic deaths are a reminder to us all of the fragility of life and the urgent need for better understanding among us all,” the university said.
Ezra was buried on Sunday his hometown of Sharon. At his funeral his family recalled his athleticism, love of sports and his passion for the Patriots.
His mother Ruth recalled how in the week before his death they spoke about the way the Patriots had defeated the Giants.
“We FaceTimed with him last Sunday night after the Patriots Giants game. He was ecstatic. We all enjoyed rehashing the game," Ruth said.
His sister older sister Mollie similarly texted with him to ask how the game had gone.
“You don't know??” he asked,” recalled Mollie. “This followed by, ‘Giants kicked a field goal to go up by 2 with 249 to go and the Pats had no time outs left. They drove down the field with seven-seconds left. Our kicker kicked a 54 yard and in parenthesis he wrote (long field goal) to take the lead by one, with one-second left and they didn't return the kick-off for a touchdown so we won,” Mollie said as she read out his text at the funeral.