Students of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem participated on
Thursday in a special drill which simulated rockets falling at the
yeshiva and causing dozens of casualties and some deaths.
The drill was initiated by the ZAKA terror victims identification
organization in cooperation with Home Front Command, Magen David
Adom, and Israel Fire and Rescue Services.
The drill, which was held four years after the 2008 massacre at the
yeshiva in which eight students were killed, was the final part of a
course which trained 28 of the yeshiva’s students to act as “young
commanders” during an emergency.
“The State of Israel is undergoing difficult times,” the head of the
Yeshiva High School of Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss,
told Arutz Sheva. “The scenario being practiced is an attack of
rockets and, for the first several hours, rescue services can’t get
here so we need to appoint young leaders to help the casualties.”
Yeshiva director Rabbi David Simchon, who was the only staff member
in the building on the night of the terror attack in 2008, recalled
those terrible moments.
“I was working in my office when I heard gunfire,” he said. “I asked
where the gunfire was coming from and people tried to assure me it
wasn’t gunfire but firecrackers in honor of Purim [the terror attack
at the yeshiva occurred at the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar,
just days before the holiday of Purim -ed]. I said, ‘It’s gunfire,
not firecrackers.’ I got out of my office and as I was running
towards the sound of the gunfire a student came up to me and said
there were terrorists in the building.”
Rabbi Simchon said that as the only staff member who was present at
the time, he had to take care of the victims of the attack until
rescue forces arrived. He added that it was then that he discovered
that there was no one present who could take command during an
emergency. It is from this need that the training course for students
“The idea behind the course is to have a group of students who, no
matter what happens – be it an earthquake, a terror attack or any
other emergency – can take charge,” he explained.