Ohio children fatally stabbed in Israel are remembered at funeral for their kindness, joy

Father confessed to killing boy and girl during their summer-break visit.
MCT Regional News
Jun 20, 2014

Mourners of two Columbus children stabbed to death in Israel last week were called upon Wednesday to honor their loving spirits and to begin the healing process by reaching out to family, friends and community members in need.

Sara Levy, 10, and her 11-year-old brother, Yishai Levy, were remembered during their funeral at Congregation Beth Jacob not for the way they died but for the way they lived their lives with sensitivity and kindness that had an impact on everyone they met.

In front of two pine caskets marked with Stars of David, Rabbi Avi Goldstein recalled Sara as a “ special, vivacious, intuitive girl” who was wise beyond her years, and Yishai as a boy with a beautiful smile whose best friend was always “the friend that needed him most.”

“Today, despite this senseless and terrible tragedy, we are reminded about how important it is to live life’s every moment to its fullest,” Goldstein told about 300 people at the East Side congregation.

“We are reminded how precious life is and how tenuous it can be at times. We are reminded, most of all, how special children are, how they must be cherished and nurtured and loved.

“We will all continue to derive strength from Yishai and Sara for what they stood for. ... Our community will always derive strength from their beautiful lives.”

The Israeli-born children, who immigrated to the United States in 2011, were remembered for their charm and wit, happiness and bravery, and their love of animals and board games. Eulogies spoke of rolling down grassy hills, of riding bikes and building snow forts, of sleepovers and dancing while washing the dishes.

Sara loved  Project Runway, had green sparkly shoes and once joined a knitting group where the next-youngest participant was in her 60s. Her brother was certain he’d someday play for the NBA, but his most-recent backup plan was architecture.

Their parents were divorced, and the children had moved to Columbus from Texas with their mother, Karen Cowgill-Levy, about a year ago. They lived in the Berwick area and attended Columbus Torah Academy, where Sara had just finished fourth grade and Yishai had completed fifth grade.

The three had found “overwhelming love and support” in Columbus, said Mrs. Levy’s aunt, Patricia Henley, reading a eulogy written by the children’s uncle.

“Although Sara, Yishai and Karen moved and traveled many times, they finally found a place here in Columbus among the Jewish community,” she read. “We can say they lived in many apartments and houses, but this is where they felt at home.”

The children traveled to Yashresh, Israel, on June 11 for a summer-break visit with their father. Police said he confessed to killing them and was arrested.

“While we can never comprehend or understand such an evil act, we must begin the healing process,” Henley read. “We can begin by accepting the acts of kindness bestowed upon us and to return the love and support tenfold. ... In this way, Sara’s and Yishai’s kind and loving spirits will not be forgotten. They will live on in each of us.”

Though an Israeli judge prohibited the father’s name from being released, he has been identified as Avi Levy. Israeli police have said the Levys had been involved in a complicated divorce and that Mrs. Levy had reported violence by her husband.

At yesterday’s funeral, a friend read a letter written to Mrs. Levy by the Woman to Woman shelter in Jerusalem, where the mother and children had received help. The letter called Mrs. Levy courageous for taking her children on a new path “from chaos and toward harmony.”

“Our hearts are broken at the brevity of this new life,” Shira Guttermann read.

“You truly did all that you could. You were wise and brave and tender as you coped with the unthinkable situations you needed to overcome.

“We were so happy when you, Sara and Yishai were finally safe and finally enjoying a new life, but it was interrupted irrevocably, far too soon and far too dreadfully.”

Mourners of two Columbus children stabbed to death in Israel last week were called upon yesterday to honor their loving spirits and to begin the healing process by reaching out to family, friends and community members in need.

Sara Levy, 10, and her 11-year-old brother, Yishai Levy, were remembered during their funeral at Congregation Beth Jacob not for the way they died but for the way they lived their lives with sensitivity and kindness that had an impact on everyone they met.

In front of two pine caskets marked with Stars of David, Rabbi Avi Goldstein recalled Sara as a “ special, vivacious, intuitive girl” who was wise beyond her years, and Yishai as a boy with a beautiful smile whose best friend was always “the friend that needed him most.”

“Today, despite this senseless and terrible tragedy, we are reminded about how important it is to live life’s every moment to its fullest,” Goldstein told about 300 people at the East Side congregation.

“We are reminded how precious life is and how tenuous it can be at times. We are reminded, most of all, how special children are, how they must be cherished and nurtured and loved.

“We will all continue to derive strength from Yishai and Sara for what they stood for. ... Our community will always derive strength from their beautiful lives.”

The Israeli-born children, who immigrated to the United States in 2011, were remembered for their charm and wit, happiness and bravery, and their love of animals and board games. Eulogies spoke of rolling down grassy hills, of riding bikes and building snow forts, of sleepovers and dancing while washing the dishes.

Sara loved  Project Runway, had green sparkly shoes and once joined a knitting group where the next-youngest participant was in her 60s. Her brother was certain he’d someday play for the NBA, but his most-recent backup plan was architecture.

Their parents were divorced, and the children had moved to Columbus from Texas with their mother, Karen Cowgill-Levy, about a year ago. They lived in the Berwick area and attended Columbus Torah Academy, where Sara had just finished fourth grade and Yishai had completed fifth grade.

The three had found “overwhelming love and support” in Columbus, said Mrs. Levy’s aunt, Patricia Henley, reading a eulogy written by the children’s uncle.

“Although Sara, Yishai and Karen moved and traveled many times, they finally found a place here in Columbus among the Jewish community,” she read. “We can say they lived in many apartments and houses, but this is where they felt at home.”

The children traveled to Yashresh, Israel, on June 11 for a summer-break visit with their father. Police said he confessed to killing them and was arrested.

“While we can never comprehend or understand such an evil act, we must begin the healing process,” Henley read. “We can begin by accepting the acts of kindness bestowed upon us and to return the love and support tenfold. ... In this way, Sara’s and Yishai’s kind and loving spirits will not be forgotten. They will live on in each of us.”

Though an Israeli judge prohibited the father’s name from being released, he has been identified as Avi Levy. Israeli police have said the Levys had been involved in a complicated divorce and that Mrs. Levy had reported violence by her husband.

At yesterday’s funeral, a friend read a letter written to Mrs. Levy by the Woman to Woman shelter in Jerusalem, where the mother and children had received help. The letter called Mrs. Levy courageous for taking her children on a new path “from chaos and toward harmony.”

“Our hearts are broken at the brevity of this new life,” Shira Guttermann read.

“You truly did all that you could. You were wise and brave and tender as you coped with the unthinkable situations you needed to overcome.

“We were so happy when you, Sara and Yishai were finally safe and finally enjoying a new life, but it was interrupted irrevocably, far too soon and far too dreadfully.”

———

By JoAnne Viviano - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services
 

Comments

William Jeffers...

"We are reminded, most of all, how special children are, how they must be cherished and nurtured and loved." Amen

TheGravyWhisperer

...amen

JakeMac25

Two non local stories about Jewish hardships in one week. Why?

sandijunebug

God Bless these little children, I will never understand this how someone can be so evil.