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Chabad Rabbinical Students Remember Israeli Professor Killed In Adis Ababa

By , Adis Ababa, Ethiopia

(  Jechezkel Shoshani life’s work, unraveling the biological mysteries behind the great African elephant, was cut short when a minibus exploded as he made his way home from Addis Ababa University.

Though it is still unclear as to whether the blast that killed the Israeli professor last week in Ethiopia was terrorist related, the Jewish people lost a warm, open and kind Jew.

Such was the reaction of Yaacov Behrman and Shmuli Feldman who were shocked to receive the news last week. The two met Dr. Jechezkel “Hezy” Shoshani, 65, over Passover when they hosted a Seder in Ethiopia, sponsored by the central Lubavitch offices  and Chabad of the Central Africa's Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila.

Hours after landing in hot and dusty Addis Ababa, the young rabbis-to-be were standing outside the Israeli consulate scouting for Jewish people to invite to the Seder. Their accommodations were still not settled. They weren’t sure where they were going to be that evening, but it didn’t matter. If Jews in Ethiopia needed a Seder, they were going to host one – all were welcome.

Dr. Shoshani replied that he had some issues with observant Jews. Despite his reservations, he accepted the invitations and would spread word of the Seder to his Jewish acquaintances.

That was Tuesday. By Saturday evening, the first night of Passover, Dr. Shoshani was among the fourteen Israelis at the Seder.

“I’ve been to dazzling, huge Seders, but this one was the nicest Seder of my life,” Behrman told “Everyone told stories about their lives. It was a real journey through the Haggadah.”

After five hours of stories, songs and dancing, Dr. Shoshani told the group that the Seder night had left him inspired. Before leaving Dr. Shoshani, ever sensitive to the needs of animals, asked for bones from the meal. He didn’t want his dogs to suffer bouts of jealousy when he arrived home with the scent of the dinner lingering around him.

The next morning, Dr. Shoshani joined the group for prayer services. He was honored by being called up to the Torah and recited the blessings. 

Before parting, the three promised to keep in touch. Back in New York, Behrman emailed another Israeli in Ethiopia for Dr. Shoshani’s email address, and was awaiting a response when he received the news of Dr. Shoshani’s death. A friend had seen the news brief on an Israeli news website.

Still reeling with disbelief, Behrman called the Israeli embassy to see if there was anything he could do. They passed along a note they received from Mrs. Sandra Shoshani, thanking them for their help, and recalling how “joyful” he was about his experiences during the Seder evening with Chabad, only a few weeks prior.


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