Reuven Schmerling, a 70 year old man from Elkana, Israel, was murdered in a brutal stabbing attack by two Arabs on Erev Sukkos, 14 Tishrei, 5778.
He was murdered as his friends and family were waiting to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Schmerling’s badly beaten body was found by police in a building he owned in the Kafr Kassem industrial zone.
While police initially suggested the murder may have been the result of a business dispute between Schmerling and employees of his factory, authorities now say the evidence suggests the murder was a premeditated act of terrorism.
Schmerling was the son of Rabbi Schneur Zalman Schmerling obm, a Lubavitch Chosid from Tel Aviv, Israel, who was a descendant of the Alter Rebbe and a distant relative of the Rebbe.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Schmerling was a frequent traveler to Crown Heights for the month of Tishrei with the Rebbe. He served as cantor during Tehillim in 770 at the Rebbe’s request and helped with the printing of the Tanya in Turkey.
Reuven Schmerling was laid to rest on Friday in Elkana. Some 1,200 people attended the funeral as friends and family eulogized him as a “man of kindness” who always sought to help others.
“Everything was ready for your birthday, we had prepared a song and a presentation, t-shirts and all, but only the birthday boy was missing,” his daughter, Idit, recalled at his funeral. “we never had the time to say goodbye and thank you for the important things you gave us: tremendous love, a beaming smile, Shabbat songs, being a devoted grandparent and for your love of fellow human beings.”
Video: Funeral of Reuven Schmerling
While details of the investigation remain under a gag order, Shin Bet released a brief statement Sunday saying that two unidentified Palestinians residents of Kabatiya in the West Bank were arrested and interrogated over the weekend for the murder.
Schmerling is survived by his wife and four children.
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.