Rabbis, politicians and family members alike could not hold back the tears and pain Wednesday morning at the funeral of Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, 30, his two young sons Aryeh, six, and Gavriel, three, and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego.
“Enough, God, enough of this pain,” cried out Miriam’s brother Avishai in his eulogy.“How long, God? Will you forever ignore me? How long will you hide your face from me?” he sobbed, quoting from the Book of Psalms.Of his sister he made a request: “From the place you are at now Miriam, pray that God will give strength to Mum and Dad to pass this, the hardest possible experience that exists.“Mum and Dad, I have a request of you as well, from myself, from my brothers and sisters and many others. Carry on.”“Carry on,” he said to his parents, “because we need you.”Yonatan’s wife and Miriam’s parents sat in front of the four victims, weeping and inconsolable, as the eulogies were given.Miriam’s mother, Yaffa, was too distraught to walk to the ceremony and had to be carried to her seat.Shmuel Sandler, Yonatan’s father, speaking in French, talked of his son’s courage, how he had built up his life and his happiness with his wife and three children.“Yonatan surprised us every day with the articles he wrote and with the depth of his thought,” he recalled. “But my wife and I remember the long evenings we spent teaching him multiplication tables with smiles on our faces.”Shmuel Sandler described how he and his wife were the envy of their friends for having such unique grandchildren.“Aryeh, I see you running when we landed at the airport full of goodness and the happiness of life,” he said of his six-year-old grandchild.“Every night [of our visit] we heard him praying before going to sleep, asking, ‘Please God watch over my parents and everyone I love.’” Gavriel was a special boy, and his smile never left his face, his grandfather said of the three-year-old.“My nickname for him was Mister Cola and he called me Grandpa Coffee.”The last time Shmuel saw them all was in Toulouse, he continued. “Now the three of you and Miriam are united together and leave us for a better world.”“Yonatan’s soul now resides with you,” he said turning to Yonatan’s pregnant wife, Eva. “God gives and God takes away,” he concluded.Numerous dignitaries attended the funeral, including Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.Amar broke down in tears as he addressed the mourners.“Oh what has befallen us,” he wept. “Children studying at school, through whom the world continues to exist, we now come to accompany them. For who should we cry out? For the boys, for their father, for the little girl? We will pray for salvation from God.”“But our enemies should not think that we cry and that we mourn from weakness, God forbid,” Amar continued.
“We weep, but we are strong, and we are steadfast in our faith.”Israel trusts God and does not despair, he said, declaring that the Jewish people would continue to study and teach Torah, and to live a Jewish life wherever they are in the world.“Our enemies will not succeed in breaking us; we will stand up and continue onwards. This is the commandment from these martyrs.”Yishai also addressed the mourners, telling them that the hearts of the Jewish people are with them.“The People of Israel are crying,” he told them. “Our hearts are with you, and with the Jews of France and with the Ozar Hatorah school that has suffered such a terrible and painful blow.”The pain is inconceivable, Yishai continued, and the heart cries out. “God is testing us, but our belief in his divine guiding hand will not wipe clean the hands of these despicable murderers because there is justice and there is a judge,” he declared.Rivlin, who was the first dignitary to give a eulogy, spoke fervently of the unity of the Jewish people, and of the shared pain that he said has now engulfed it. “The whole House of Israel stands here today, Jews of every kind stand here with us with deep pain in their hearts and tears in their eyes,” he said.
“Again we stand before small, silent bodies, before small graves. As in Itamar and Sderot, as in the Chabad House in Bombay and in Argentina, in Yeshivat Merkaz Harav in Jerusalem and this time in Ozar Hatorah in Toulouse, the Jewish people face wild and insatiable animals, wild animals turned mad by their hatred,” Rivlin declared, referencing recent attacks on Jews inside and outside of Israel.“We face murderers who do not distinguish between the Orthodox or secular; between settlers or those on the Left; a Jew in Israel or a Jew in the Diaspora. In their murderous deeds they do not distinguish between Sephardi or Ashkenazi, a hassid or a Litvak. They know well that we are brothers.“They know where to hurt us... they target our most holy values... Jewish education, the passing on of our traditions from generation to generation...This is pure evil, refined hatred for the people of Israel, but we will not allow them to subjugate us or to extinguish the flame of education and tradition.“The people of Israel will continue to embrace its heritage, through faith, with pride, and with Jewish strength.”