Beit Shemesh mayor mourns city's lost son killed in terror attack

The city mourns IDF soldier Yossef Cohen, who was killed in a terrorist attack on Thursday.

Killed IDF soldier Corporal Yosef Cohen (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Killed IDF soldier Corporal Yosef Cohen
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
“I am thankful to God for the merit He has given me to defend the Jewish people with my body.”
These were hauntingly portentous words spoken by slain soldier Yosef Cohen less than a week ago at his Shabbat table with his family.
Cohen and Yuval Mor Yosef were killed Thursday when a Palestinian gunman mowed them down as they stood at a bus stop outside the outpost of Givat Assaf.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday night, Rabbi Eliyahu Meirav, Cohen’s step-father, described the family’s grief and related Yosef’s comments from last Shabbat.
“We lost the most beloved thing of all, what can I say. We are broken and crushed. But we are also very strong. We are believing Jews,” said Meirav.
“Last Shabbat, we sat together and we have a custom of saying what we are thankful for. Sweet Yossi, righteous, holy Yossi, may he rest in peace, said ‘I thank God for the merit He has given me to defend the Jewish people with my body,’” he continued.
“Those were the last words he said here in our house,” he said tearfully. “What a soul he was. That was the essence of the child.”
Meirav said that Yossi was a boy who was “loved by everyone” and was “all heart, all generosity, all love, all friendliness – a wondrous child.” He was someone who “always wanted to help others,” he added.
His step-father said that Yosef enlisted in the IDF out of a sense of duty, and that he had encouraged his step-son to do so.
“The truth is that I encouraged him to enlist, since I understood that according to his personality it would be very good and appropriate for him, would build him and develop him, and give him new horizons,” said Meirav.
Cohen, who lived in Beit Shemesh, and his family are haredim who belong to the Breslov hassidic community.
Meirav said that there had been a disagreement in the home regarding whether or not he should enlist in the IDF. His mother was reticent to let him join the army, Meirav said, not because of politics but “because it is hard for a mother to send her child to the army. What mother wants to send her [child] to the army?”
Cohen was described by Beit Shemesh mayor Aliza Bloch as “a wonderful and amazing person who grew up in our city.” The entire city is mourning for one of its sons, she added.
He went to school in the Branco-Weiss Derech Hayim Yeshiva, which was established by Bloch, and she said he was “a charming and lovely child” and “full of the joy of life.”
Bloch said that Cohen had combined a haredi lifestyle with his desire to serve the Jewish people, and “enlisted to the Netzah Yehudah battalion with happiness and love, and out of a goal of serving the Jewish people.”
The Beit Shemesh mayor spoke with Meirav himself, who told her of Cohen’s comments last Shabbat thanking God for giving him the merit to defend the Jewish people.
Concluded Bloch, “Dear and beloved Yosef, the city of Beit Shemesh and all of the Jewish people are in mourning for this massive loss.”