Thousands came to mourn the death and honor the life of Ari Nesher at the cemetery at Moshav Udim on Sunday.
Nesher died on his 17th birthday at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on Thursday after in a hit-and-run car accident early morning of September 24 when he was riding his bike with a friend.
Nesher, the son of leading Israeli director, Avi Nesher, was eulogized by family and friends in a ceremony filled with music and joyful memories of his tragically short life.
Members of the Israeli film- making community, including renowned actors, directors, and many who work behind the scenes at the film industry, stood side-by-side with the Nesher family and their friends, sharing a grief for the tragic loss of this talented, bright, affectionate and charismatic boy who humbled everyone.
A choir from Nesher’s school performed choral music and Nathan Goshen, a well-known Israeli musician who appears in Avi Nesher’s latest movie, The Other Story, played the American folk classic “500 Miles,” which was one of Ari’s favorite songs.
Ari was eulogized by several teachers and friends. Many who spoke said Ari, who volunteered for Magen David Adom (MDA) and hoped to be a paramedic in the army, would have approved of his parents’ decision to donate his organs, which were transplanted into five Israelis on Friday to save their lives. That was one of the notes of grace in an otherwise dark day. Dozens of MDA staff attended the funeral on their motorcycles and in ambulances. When one young woman collapsed in the heat, MDA staff were there to revive her.
The late Father Marcel Dubois, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University, once said that there was nothing in the world sadder than a Jewish funeral, with its lack of pretty fairy tales about heaven.
And of course, nothing is sadder than seeing parents bury their child, a heartbreaking sight that was made more so by the presence of Ari’s two grand- mothers. Displaying indescribable strength, the Nesher family spoke softly about their beloved son and brother.
Ari’s older sister, Tom, also a filmmaker, remembered their closeness and their similarities, both superficially – in their looks – and their love of movies and joking around.
Iris Nesher, an artist, recalled how it was she who would put Ari to sleep as a child, and how the hospital allowed her to be with him in his final moments in the hospital, as if she were putting him to sleep one last time.
Avi Nesher read a Hebrew translation of W.H. Auden’s “Stop the Clocks (aka Funeral Blues),” which he said was especially appropriate for his son, who loved romantic comedies, since it was featured in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. He also recited kaddish.
His voice breaking, he said that in spite of the enormity of the loss, the condolences of friends and family and the empathy and love that they showed for Ari and his family, gave some hope.
Recalling how he spoke to an American neurologist not long before his son was removed from life support, the doctor told him, “Avi, you don’t understand. The neshuma [using the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew word neshama, or soul] is no longer there.’”
His father looked toward the grave and said, “And it’s not there, either... but it will be with you” – he said indicating all the mourners, “in some other way.