The photos and videos on social media about the kind, good, love-filled life of Eliyahu David Kay, HY”D, are searing. Taken in a terror attack in the Old City this past Sunday, this smiling 26-year-old South African Jew was clearly loved by a huge family and a strong fiancée, Jen Schiff. Now he is loved, heartbreakingly, by all who love and care for Medinat Yisrael. His loss has been felt deeply by all who knew him and by so many of us who are connected to him socially by only one or two degrees.
Perhaps you know his mother and father, his relatives in South Africa, the UK and Israel, his fiancée’s family in Stamford, Connecticut. Perhaps he went to yeshiva with your son or met him on a lone soldier program. He was active in our community and was beloved.
Jen Schiff, an olah originally from Stamford, spoke to the media on Sunday night about who her fiancé was and what he was like. “I thought it was important to share how much Eli loved his country, how he came here by himself. He fought for his country. He had a bunch of injuries in the army and he continued to go through the training… He was the strongest person I’ve ever known, emotionally and physically, and the smartest man I have ever met.
“Caring and considerate, gentle and firm, and very, very loving and accepting of anyone, no matter their background. No matter what they might say or do he always treated everyone with love and respect.
“I know that when this happened today he did not feel alone and he knew that being in this country and doing what he did, [it was] who he was, giving everything he had to the people around him, to Israel.”
His was a whole life, and a whole world. We mourn his passing from our world. May Eli’s relatives, Jen and many friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.
Hashem yikom damo.