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Dedicating a song in memory to slain American teenager

Cedarhurst native composes tune and makes a video in memory of Ezra Schwartz

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To honor the memory of Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old who was killed in Israel in 2015, Cedarhurst native Avi Beer, along with Daniel Yager, Moshe Caplan and the Netiv Aryeh Band, released a song called “Bless, my soul,” on Nov. 30, 2016, and an accompanying music video. The song is sung in Hebrew.

Schwartz, from Sharon, Mass., took a gap year between high school and college to study at a yeshiva in Israel. He was volunteering in the West Bank to deliver food to Israeli soldiers when he was shot and killed at an intersection in Gush Etzion, a cluster of Jewish settlements located in the Judaean Mountains, directly south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. 

Beer, 19, who wrote the lyrics for “Bless, my soul,” composed the music for it and edited the music video together. “[Schwartz’s] passing really hit home and inspired me to release this song in honor of him with the message behind the song praising God and his greatness and that even in dark times God with his greatness is always there,” Beer wrote in an email. 

Yisrael Laub at Little Box Records in Israel recorded the song performed by singers Beer, Yager, 19, of Queens, Caplan, 20, of California and the rest of the Netiv Aryeh Band who Beer said prefer to remain anonymous. They all attend Netiv Aryeh, a yeshiva in Israel. The head of production for the band is Sruly Kagan and Yosef Naiman recorded the video footage that Beer used to create the music video.

The lyrics such as, “My soul should bless Hashem, Hashem my God, you are very great. You have donned majesty and splendor, cloaked in light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a curtain,” are inspired by psalms.

After spending nearly two years in the Yeshiva Boys Choir, Beer said he has been writing songs with the hope of releasing his own music that will inspire people. The song has been available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon since Dec. 20, 2016. 

Benjamin Sommer, 18, of Queens and another Netiv Aryeh student, managed the band throughout this project. Sommer has known Beer for a few years and said that as manager, he was responsible for scheduling practices and ensuring that they ran smoothly. 

“Ezra wasn’t just another terrorist attack, he reminded us of ourselves, of our families, of our children, how they go through the exact same experiences as he did. And that I believe is why Ezra is so important to remember and memorialize,” Sommer wrote in an email.

He is hopeful, that in some small way, the song will inspire listeners to work toward diminishing anti-Semitism and eliminating senseless killings so that “we can all live in peace and harmony together,” Sommer wrote.

To hear the song and learn more about Avi Beer, visit avibeer.com.