Rabbi Yaakov Don, 51, formerly of Toronto, was one of three people killed in a shooting in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Students and teachers in Toronto are mourning the loss of a teacher who was killed in a drive-by shooting Thursday in the West Bank.
Rabbi Yaakov Don, 51, was one of three people killed in the shooting in the Etzion settlement block south of Jerusalem, on a day that also saw two people killed in a renewed spate of violence in Israel and the West Bank.
Don, a resident of Israel, taught at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto for four years in the early 2000s as part of a program that gave Israeli teachers the opportunity to teach in Toronto for a few years before moving back.
Josh Sable, who worked with Don at the academy as co-directors of student activities, said Don had a big personality, and a big heart to match.
“He had this incredibly warm smile, and he was very passionate about everything that he did,” Sable said.
“He didn’t talk down to them. He treated them as young adults with a lot of intelligence and a lot of potential,” he said.
One of those students, Arieh Singer, said that even 15 years after leaving the academy, his experiences with Don have stayed with him.
“I was a teenager. I’m in my thirties now. I have children. And I can still look back at the impact, and how positive it was, that he had on my life. And that’s half of a lifetime ago,” Singer said.
Singer said he spent much of Thursday afternoon emailing with other former students of Don. Many of them expressed shock at his death, and asked what they could do to help. Though many have been affected by violence in Israel and the West Bank for a long time, Don’s death hit many particularly hard.
“It’s one thing to read in the news. It’s another thing to experience in your heart,” he said.
With files from the New York Times news service