Namibian Jews guard remains of Israelis killed in crash

Namibia’s Jewish community has mobilized to help guard the remains of the five Israelis killed when their small Cessna 210 crashed in the Olympia suburb of the national capital Windhoek on Friday afternoon.

The crash turned into a fireball, and the bodies of the five Israeli businessmen and their pilot were burned beyond recognition. An Israeli delegation from ZAKA and the Israel Police is in Namibia working to identify the remains before bringing them home for burial.

According to Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft of the African Jewish Congress, “the community has created a roster and they’re doing guard duty [over the bodies] at the mortuary.”

On Sunday, the community organized prayers in which they read Psalms, taking care to mention the five Israelis’ Hebrew names in their prayers. “It was a sign of solidarity for those killed,” said Silberhaft.

“The Namibian government is going all out to be cooperative and absolutely supportive,” he added. “Everybody is working together.”

Ilan Baruch, the Israeli ambassador to South Africa who also serves as the non-resident ambassador to Namibia, is in the country working to expedite the return of the bodies to Israel.

The Namibian Jewish community is a satellite of the South African Jewish community – Namibia was under South African administration until the late 1980s – and has shrunk alongside the larger community to the south.

According to Silberhaft, in the late 1970s the community numbered some 1,280 families, perhaps comprising 3,000 members, and maintained five synagogues throughout the country. Only some 90 Jews now live in the country, with just one synagogue in operation in Windhoek.


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