NJDC is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Otto Warmbier, whose young and promising life was taken far too soon. The last time the world saw Warmbier, he was standing trial in North Korea. At that trial on February 29, 2016, Warmbier begged for forgiveness for the act of stealing a poster but instead was sentenced to 15 years of “hard labor” in a North Korean labor camp. Upon being released on June 13, 2017, Warmbier’s family revealed he had been comatose for over a year. He passed away on June 19.
JTA reports that Wambier was a treasured member of the Jewish community at the University of Virginia, where he regularly attended Hillel and participated in a UVA sponsored Birthright trip to Israel. While in Israel he kept a blog where he wrote about the wonders of the Western Wall and connecting more with his faith. His trip to Israel strengthened his ties to the larger Jewish community and inspired him to continue advocating for Israel and the Jewish people back at UVA’s campus.
We pray for his family and friends mourning this tremendous loss and hope that his life will serve as a reminder to all to actively pursue tikkun olam and strive for the creation of a more peaceful world.
May his soul rest in peace and our heart be with his friends and family during this difficult time.