Cleveland Heights man amongst 45 folks killed Friday in stampede at Israeli non secular pageant


MOUNT MERON, Israel – A 21-year-old man from Cleveland Heights is among 45 people who were killed in a rush during a Lag B’Omer festival in northern Israel on Friday.

Youssi Kohn, 22, is the son of Chaya Gitty Kohn, the seventh and eighth grade principal at Beatrice Yavne High School, the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Beachwood, said Rabbi Simcha Dessler, director of education at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland.

The academy family and his family mourn Kohn, said Dessler.

“Yossi was an incredible young man who made himself popular with everyone, was loved by everyone and whom everyone will fondly remember,” Dessler said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go with his family and friends at this most difficult time of their life.”

The Lag B’Omer Festival on Mount Meron in northern Israel is a popular pilgrimage in the ultra-Orthodox community in the country. The Associated Press reports that at least 45 people were killed in the onslaught. The New York Times reports At least four Americans are among those killed. Dozens of people also suffered injuries.

It is estimated that around 100,000 people attended the event in honor of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who lived in the 2nd century and who many believe is buried in the area where the annual festival is held.

The rush came around 1am when people tried to leave and, according to the AP, gathered in a narrow, tunnel-like passageway. Witnesses reported people falling on a slippery ramp, tripping others and causing panic.

“The officials who were there couldn’t care less,” Rabbi Velvel Brevda told AP, blaming the government for the death of “beautiful holy Jews who were killed here for no reason.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story