Ex-Israeli soldier, a Brown freshman, killed


(JTA) — A Brown University freshman who had served in the Israeli army was killed by an allegedly drunken driver.

The death of Avi Schaefer, 21, sent reverberations through two continents, from the campus community in Providence, R.I., to the Lone Soldier Center in Jerusalem.

Schaefer, a California native, made aliyah in  2007. His funeral in Los Angeles was streamed in real time on the Internet and watched by friends all over the world, including about 300 people at the center in Jerusalem and Brown students at the university’s Hillel, according to Haaretz.

Early on the morning of Feb. 21, an allegedly drunken driver drove his SUV into a group of students walking home from a party near the Brown campus, killing Schaefer and injuring another student.

The driver, Daniel Gilcreast, 23, reportedly had a blood-alcohol level above the .08 legal limit, according to a test taken by Providence police.

A Facebook site "In Loving Memory of Avi Schaefer" now has more than 3,650 members. Another Facebook group called "Alliance for Avi against Drunk Drivers" has more than 1,400 members.

Schaefer was active in Common Ground, an organization for students to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and was known for a column he wrote in the student newspaper addressed "To those interested in creating peace in the Middle East."

He became close friends with a Palestinian student who was a member of the group, according to the Brown Daily Herald.

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