Rabbi, slain on way to family celebration, praised as devoted teacher, father

A rabbi killed in a West Bank terror attack Monday was remembered my family and friends as a loving teacher and idealist who devoted his life to education and to helping build the settlement where he lived.

Itamar Ben-Gal, 29, was stabbed to death while waiting at a hitchhiking post near the West Bank settlement of Ariel Monday as he headed to a circumcision ceremony for his nephew. His suspected killer managed to flee the scene.

Ben-Gal, originally from Rehovot, was a father of four and lived in the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha, a community of some 2,500 people on the outskirts of Nablus that he was remembered as devoted to building.

In a statement late Monday evening, Ben-Gal’s widow Miriam said she lost her husband “on the soil of the land of Israel.”

“I am here in my home, a home that my husband will not return to. Tomorrow we will bury him here in Har Bracha, a community that he loved so dearly and so wanted to develop.”

The town manager of Har Bracha, Yoni Hayisraeli, said the settlement would push to continue expanding in response to the murder.

“Itamar was a special person, dynamic, energetic, young and fresh-faced, full of life, who devoted his life to education and to adding life, adding Torah,” he told Hebrew-language media.

Ben-Gal was a middle school teacher at the Bnei Akiva yeshiva in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel.

“His moral and educational image will be engraved in us forever,” the school said, according to the Walla news website.

“He was a good teacher and educator and always helped everyone,” eighth-grade student Ariel Dubnik told the Ynet news site.

Yogev Cohen, a friend of Ben-Gal, said he was a “model father,” “amazing husband” and “idealist” who helped build Har Bracha, where he also studied in a yeshiva.

“He was a special mix of derech eretz and Torah, a man with a heart of gold,” he told Hebrew-language media, using a term for good manners.

“Just last week he told me how much he loved his students and loved to teach them and the mix of Torah, science and values,” he added.

Read More: Times of Israel