Sunday, July 12, 2020

The name Yair means “he will illuminate.” Yair Shapiro, 40, who tragically fell to his death on a hiking trip in Israel, on Chol HaMoed Pesach, April 7, 2015, embodied this spirit. The montage of pictures on Shapiro’s Facebook page shows him sporting a genuine, wide-beaming smile in every photograph; a smile that would light up any room. That’s the same way his “friends” remember him on their own Facebook pages.

Hailing from Livingston, NJ, Shapiro’s Facebook page shows that Livingston was always close to his heart with a “Like” for St. Barnabas Medical Center.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Shapiro was raised in Ra’anana. Single and living in Jerusalem’s Katamon Neighborhood, his LinkedIn account shows that at the time of his untimely death he was working as a research analyst at The Van Leer Institute, also in Jerusalem.

Holding a bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree from Hebrew University, he lists many jobs involving interesting research at leading Israeli institutions. More can be found on his alumni website at http://huji.academia.edu/YairShapiro.

According to friends taking to Facebook as well as reports in the Post, and ynetnews.com, a group of 14 on a hike with Shapiro were traumatized as he fell from the trail and went off a 50-meter high (164-foot) cliff at Wadi Og stream, landing in the valley below. He was pronounced dead at the scene. They had been touring Nahal Og near the Dead Sea in the Judaean Desert.

One social group to which Shapiro belonged was called ‘Shiur and Schmooze.’ Group leader Nadia Levene posted: ‘he was intelligent, warm, friendly, and sweet.’ She stated that the tragic accident happened while he and others were on a Pesach Tiyul. Katya Dunitz questioned, “How could this happen on a regular hiking trail?”

Brian Blum, author of Get Walking-The Top 10 Hikes in Israel explains, “Nahal Og is a beautiful walk…it’s mostly flat and pleasant except for one part, where it descends through several near-vertical cliffs. To scale these cliffs, you must hold onto rungs drilled into the side of the mountain…these rungs are truly terrifying…”

Nefesh B’Nefesh, another group of which Shapiro was a member, listed a posting by member Benjy Singer on israelk.org, announcing that his funeral was to take place on April 8 at Kfar Nachman Cemetery in Ra’anana. The shiva was set to begin after Pesach, until Wednesday.

A special note on the April 12 Facebook page of Yael Unterman read, “...Yair’s sister [Yael] said they were very moved by the turnout of all his friends and asked for his friends to come so that they can meet them and learn a bit more about Yair through them (they especially would like to meet the friends who were with him on the tiyul).”

By Sharon Mark Cohen