Friends of the Wultz family and members of the Jewish community in Weston, Florida, were shocked to receive the news of Daniel Wultz's death on Sunday.
"People here are left speechless," said Rabbi Yisroel Spalter of the Chabad of Weston, to which the Wultz family belongs.
"Everyone is gathering and looking at each other and crying. That is all there is do. It's too fresh, the shock is overwhelming," Spalter told The Jerusalem Post
by phone from the Chabad center in Weston.
Rabbi Spalter has known the Wultz family for the past ten years. Over the past year and half, he said, his relationship with Daniel became very close following Daniel's growing interest in Judaism and in religious observance.
"He embarked on a journey to an observant Jewish life, and as a result I've been in touch with him almost daily, sometimes more than once a day," Spalter said.
Following the April 17 suicide bombing in which Daniel was gravely injured, Spalter flew to Israel to be at his bedside for several days.
"I saw him wake up and open his eyes for first time -- there was such emotion, such wonderful hope that God would listen favorably to our prayers," he said. "The whole community was praying for his recovery, but God wanted something different. We are in mourning and shock, it is an open wound."
The funeral, Spalter said, would take place on Tuesday, following the family's return to Florida.
"Talking about Daniel in the past tense is just beyond belief," Spalter said. "It's an enormous tragedy. Right now our hearts are with the family, they're far from us right now, but we will pick them up when they arrive and be there to support them for the rest of their lives."
"Daniel was a young man that everyone loved," Spalter added. "If there was one word that could describe him was that he loved - people, living creatures, God. He was such a good soul; so determined; so committed; there were no compromises with him. Jewish life was all-consuming for him. He wanted to do everything right, and our relationship grew because of it. I feel now as if a hand of mine has been cut off."
Spalter also recalled the thousands of people around the world who had prayed for Daniel's recovery.
"Daniel will be missed terribly, terribly," Spalter said. Every tragedy in Israel and among the Jewish people, especially the tragedies of victims of terror, is enormous. But in Daniel's case the whole world was praying for his recovery. He did believe, and his belief was so strong that he attracted all this energy around him, which was felt by the whole community and even by those who didn't know him. It's a testament to his faith and commitment. He sanctified God's name in life and in death."