The family of Aryeh Schupak, a Canadian-Israeli teenager killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem on Nov. 23, are “quiet, unassuming people,” who became more observant when they moved to Edmonton from the former Soviet Union, said a Chabad rabbi who knew the family in Canada.
The family moved to Israel about a dozen years ago, when Aryeh was just three or four years old, Rabbi Ari Drelich said in an interview with The CJN.
Aryeh, 16, was on his way to yeshiva when he was killed after a bomb packed with nails exploded at a bus stop.
The attack was one of two co-ordinated bombings at bus stops in Jerusalem that morning, that left 22 people injured.
Aryeh’s father, Moshe Schupak, was in Edmonton a few weeks ago to visit his ailing mother, and Rabbi Drelich had a chance to reconnect with him.
“He was very happy. He was working, his kids were going to school. They were fully immersed in Jewish life there,” Rabbi Drelich recalled. “He certainly seemed to indicate this was the right decision for his family… Unfortunately, this tragedy happened.”
Moshe was working either as a swimming instructor or physical education teacher, Rabbi Drelich said.
At his son’s funeral, held just hours after the terrorist attack, Moshe eulogized his child saying, “I just want to say bye to my son Aryeh and apologize to him for something I did or didn’t do. Only one thing comes to mind, that there are things that are important and things that are not. To appreciate every minute with the child and with the family.”
The family began to delve into Jewish religious life when they moved to Edmonton, Rabbi Drelich said.
“Coming from the former Soviet Union, with little knowledge about Yiddishkeit, they really took to it like a fish to water,” Rabbi Drelich said, “They grew in their observance and became shomer Shabbat, shomer kosher. They felt they wanted more and they decided to make aliyah and became very involved in the community there.”
At the funeral, mourners heard that Aryeh woke up that morning and wasn’t feeling well. His teacher at yeshiva suggested he rest up, Rabbi Drelich said. “But he insisted on coming to school, he wanted to study Torah.”
The Jewish Federation of Edmonton was also mourning Aryeh’s death. ” This is devastating news, especially to our local community. Aryeh spent formative years in Edmonton, having attended Menorah Academy prior to the family making aliyah,” CEO Stacey Leavitt-Wright wrote.
“We offer our condolences on behalf of the Edmonton Jewish community to the family. We join our Jewish communities across Canada in condemning this attack and wish a speedy recovery to the 19 victims who were injured.”
Canadian politicians also condemned the attacks, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting: “Incredibly saddened to learn about the death of a young Canadian in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I’m sending his family and friends my deepest condolences. I’m also thinking of those who were injured. Canada condemns this violence in the strongest possible terms.”
The Schupak family lived in Har Nof, an Orthodox suburb of Jerusalem. Coincidentally, a synagogue in Har Nof was the site of a violent terrorist attack in 2014 that left three people dead. Toronto-born Haim Rothman was severely injured in the attack and died one year later.