NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A young New Jersey man is among the 45 people killed during a stampede in northern Israel.
The tragedy has led to heartbreak for Jewish people around the world.READ MORE: Times Square Shooting Suspect Farrakhan Muhammad Taken Into Custody Near Jacksonville, Florida
“It’s just unreal. Just unreal,” Williamsburg resident Isaac Abraham said.
Abraham says he has not slept since getting word Thursday night, worried about friends still unaccounted for in Israel, but grateful his grandson and other family survived.
“My sister spoke to her grandchild who lost everything. He just barely made it out with his shirt and pants,” Abraham told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
They were at the annual Lag BaOmer celebration. It started as a joyous religious event, where tens of thousands gather at the tomb of a second-century rabbi, but it ended in tragedy.
A huge mass of mostly Orthodox Jews headed for the exit when makeshift walls started to buckle.
Police say a few people fell down, then panic did the rest.
“Our response was, of course, shock that something like that happened,” said Itay Milner, spokesperson for the Consulate General of Israel in New York.READ MORE: New York City Council Passes Bill Requiring Department Of Education To Develop Food Waste Prevention Plan
The Consulate General says at least 45 people were killed in the stampede, four of them American citizens.
The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey tweeted a picture of Bergenfield, New Jersey, resident Donny Morris, saying he’s among the dead.
It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Donny Morris, son of Mirlana and Aryeh Morris of Bergenfield, was one of the victims of the tragic event that occurred yesterday in Meron, Israel. Donny was a graduate of the Marsha Stern Talmudic Academy (MTA) and studying in pic.twitter.com/KX0kdGRoCb
— JFNNJ (@JFNNJ) April 30, 2021
“We’re in touch with the families. We’re making everything possible to make their entrance into Israel as soon and easy and safe as possible,” Milner said.
Rabbi Motti Seligson, with the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement, says what happened hits so close to home for so many.
“The event is something that’s very connected to people here in the New York area because so many people have been there and have experienced it,” he said.
Official details are still coming out, but in addition to the victim from New Jersey, CBS2 has learned at least another two are from Rockland County and one is from Brooklyn.MORE NEWS: New York Rep. Elise Stefanik Likely To Replace Ousted Rep. Liz Cheney As House Republican Conference Chair
Dozens more were also injured in the stampede.