A video posted by a former Hasmonean student currently serving in the Israel Defence Forces has gone viral, after he urged families not to forego their Israel gap years after an American student was shot by Palestinians.

The emotional plea from Edgware student Elisha Levy, who turns 21 later this week, had racked up 80,000 views on Facebook by Wednesday, after it was posted on Sunday. 

In it, he tells how he stood at the Kotel “for 25 minutes, crying uncontrollably” following the death of Ezra Schwartz, a gap year student from Boston who was killed on Thursday. 

“I just want to send a message to the parents of the kids that are here, and the kids that are here,” he says, to-camera. “Don’t go back home. And parents, don’t want your children home. Because, this is home.” 

He adds: “Don’t let the fact that one kid, one tsadik (righteous one) who was brutally murdered whilst doing chesed (kindness) stop you doing a chesed, stop you learning, ruin your year, because, I don’t know the boy, but I am 100 percent sure that he’d want you guys to continue learning, continue doing chesed, continue giving soldiers cakes.”

So after hearing a few guys tell me they were considering going home or generally scared because of the recent events…I felt obliged to post this. Please please click share this needs to be seen by all the right people! help win this new war! Stay in Israel! keep doing chesed! Share!

Posted by Elisha Levy on Sunday, 22 November 2015

He is due to visit several Jewish schools, to speak to pupils, after he returns to London on 10 December, and this week his mother Sharon said she was “proud but terrified” of his IDF service.

“He tells me not to worry, that he’s in the safest place in the world,” she said. “He’s a real character. He says his security is his tefillin and his gun.”

Asked about the phenomenal response, he said: “To be honest I didn’t think it would go so viral but I am happy it did. I hope it made a difference and helped comfort parents.”