Utahn among those killed in attacks in Israel

Oct 10, 2023, 12:57 PM | Updated: Oct 11, 2023, 4:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Rabbi confirmed that one of his community members was killed in recent attacks in Israel.

Rabbi Benny Zippel confirmed Lotan Abir, a member of the Young Jewish Professional Utah community, was one of the hundreds of people killed in Israel.

Zippel is the executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah. He also knew Abir personally.

Abir is remembered as always having a smile on his face.

Zippel said that Utah very frequently gets groups of young men and women arriving from Israel after completing their army duty. He said they come to Utah to explore, or find work or business opportunities.

“Lotan was a young man that had come here to Utah,” Zippel said. “He came here to several of my classes, prayer services, and he was just at a stage at his life where he was beginning to rediscover his Jewishness and he was really excited about it. He was a wonderful young man.”

Lotan went home to Israel for Jewish holidays.

Zippel said he had gone out with a group of friends, some of whom he’d been with in Utah, and they attended a rave Saturday night.

“They were there, and we got notice that as soon as the terrorists came in and started shooting, he and his group ran away and the other people in his group made it out safely, thank God, and unfortunately, he did not,”Zippel said. “First they reported back that he was MIA if we could pray for him and they were hoping to find him. The next day Sunday his family received formal notice that his body was found.”

The attacks were a surprise by Gaza militants on Israel and has prompted a lethal back-and-forth of airstrikes over the past few days. At least 11 U.S. citizens were killed in the attacks.

Zippel remembers Abir as the life of the party and the kind of person that would brighten a room with his smile.

“He was just full of life. He just loved living life. He was a very bright, personable young man, full of life -who loved life- and really was on a path to achieve whatever he wanted,” Zippel said.

According to Zippel, Utah had a unique impact on Abir and his faith.

“Coming here to a place like Utah, which is obviously not predominantly Jewish as Israel is, he felt somewhat challenged and it actually had a very good influence on him and he was just beginning to rediscover and recommit himself to his Jewishness,” Zippel said.

In honor of Abir, Zippel invited the public to commit to doing one “mitzvah” or good deed.

“We can choose to use their memory, their good moments…and choose them to motivate us to continue doing good, charitable endeavors and to use them to be a blessing to transform this place into a godly abode.”

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Utahn among those killed in attacks in Israel