The believing community in Israel has suffered much loss this year. From elder pioneers of the faith to a young family that was snatched from this earth all too soon. On Monday, September 16 yet another soul passed from this life to the next. Daniel Cohen was 24 years old and leaves behind an older and younger brother, and his parents and grandparents.
Daniel grew up in Jerusalem with his family and was involved with the Messianic community from a young age. His mother, Batia, became a believer when Daniel was young, and often prayed for that her family would one day follow and believe in Yeshua.
Daniel struggled with his faith throughout his life. “Sometimes he would be close to Yeshua and other times he would be away” his mother remembered as we sat together in their apartment. Three playful dogs (one of which was Daniel’s) had greeted me as I entered their home, but so did the weight of his passing, rippling through the rooms. Pictures of him adorned the walls near the balcony, a memorial candle was lit on a side table, and old photo albums lay open on the coffee table.
During my more than two hour conversation with Batia, she told me of Daniel’s life with pride. From his travels and sports activities, to the joy he felt when he was accepted into the army as a photographer, to his baptism; all told with joy in the midst of sorrow. A moment that stood out to her the most was when Daniel and her experienced Yeshua together. The mother and son were walking one evening, in a season when Daniel was questioning his belief in G-d, and Batia looked up in the sky and saw “Jesus” written in the stars. She asked Daniel to look up and tell her what he saw. With surprise he said “Ima (mom) I see Jesus!” Seconds after that they heard a sound, and looking down saw a snake hissing at them. They quickly moved away and realized that Yeshua had warned them of the danger all while revealing himself in a supernatural way.
Batia recounted that many times they would ask each other if the events of their walk really happened, and it was a consistent reminder for both of them of the presence of Yeshua in their lives. Daniel finally painted a picture of the event for them to hold on to. After that time, Daniel began to seek the L-rd more seriously and became active in congregation. He eventually went on to play music and work on staff for the Glory of Zion in Jerusalem.
Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye at the funeral. As a friend of his described it, “multitude of people coming to mourn his death..there was a large amount of young people, believers and nonbelievers, who had been everything from closest friends, to mere acquaintances.” In his short life he had left his mark through friendship and service in not only multiple congregations in Jerusalem, but in the secular community as well.
If you are struggling with grief from Daniel’s passing, please reach out to your congregation leaders, trusted friends, or professional resources such as Anchor of Hope Counseling. As a body we grieve together, and we need each other to lean upon and to lift us up when we are in hard times. In all, we can hold fast to the promise from G-d and one that Batia chose to place on Daniel’s grave stone: “Now we know all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28