Beyond teaching his students about the Torah, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler was a “delightful man” who was able to connect deeply with the children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
“He had a wonderful connection with his fellow students and the communities in which he worked,” Aharon Getz, a friend of the late rabbi, told Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper.
Rabbi Sandler and his two sons, five-year-old Arieh and four-year-old Gabriel, were fatally shot at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school on Monday. Myriam Monsenego, the eight-year-old daughter of the school’s principal, was also killed. BBC reported that the killer grabbed the girl by her hair to shoot her in the head.
And, according to witnesses, the rabbi tried in vain to shield his children from the attacker,
The 30-year-old rabbi moved to Toulouse with his wife and three children last year, after years of training in Jerusalem.
He was born in Paris and had attended school himself in Toulouse, according to Ha’aretz.
After he finished school in France, he went on to study in Jerusalem, where he lived for three more years before marrying his wife, Eva, the newspaper reported. He had studied at Kollel Zichron Shimon, which prepares young French students to become rabbis and teachers.
Eva, whom Israeli media reported to be pregnant, arrived in Israel with the couple’s young daughter for the burial of her husband and sons Wednesday. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the rabbi was a French citizen but that his wife was Israeli and that their children had dual nationality.
As well as volunteering in the community, the rabbi wrote a monthly column for a newspaper that focused on theology and reaching out to secular Jews.
With reports from Patrick Martin, The Associated Press and Reuters