GMU student remembered after death in Israel

Screen shot from GoFundMe website
Screen shot from
GoFundMe website

Friends and family this week fondly remembered Matthew Brian Shor, 22, a rising senior at George Mason University.

He died suddenly on May 18 during an educational and cultural trip to Israel, according to an obituary on the website of Adams-Green Funeral Home.
A memorial service for Shor was held Monday at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation.

“We are saddened to share with you the tragic death of a Mason student, Matthew Shor z”l, son of Bonnie and Samuel Shor, brother of Jeffrey Shor,” Ross Diamond, executive director of George Mason Hillel wrote in an email on May 20.

Last week, JTA and other news outlets reported that an American tourist killed himself on May 18 in Israel while on a Birthright Israel tour. A Birthright spokesperson declined to name the tourist.

It is the first time in the group’s 17-year history that a participant has killed himself, according to the spokesperson.

Friends recalled Shor online through Facebook and Twitter, and several GMU fraternities and sororities expressed their condolences.

“Today was a difficult one for us all but it was a beautiful service to say our goodbyes until we meet again,” said Facebook user Katelyn Joyce Shin, who linked the post to a GoFundMe campaign raising money in Shor’s memory for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “While it’s a tragedy to have lost you, we have gained an angel and I’m so grateful for the time we had.”

As of press time Tuesday, the campaign has raised more than $2,700.

GMU Phi Sigma Kappa, where Shor was a member, tweeted, “We’d like to thank everyone for their sympathy during our time of loss. Your kind words are of great comfort as we stay strong for Matt.”

The obituary on the funeral home’s website described Shor as a gifted athlete, competitive rock climber, football player and swimmer. At Woodson High School in Annandale, he played football and varsity lacrosse. He swam competitively for the local community summer league.

He was studying kinesiology at GMU, with the goal of working in sports medicine, the obituary said.

“As he grew into adulthood, Matt became fascinated with his Jewish heritage,” according to the obituary.

“His trip to Israel, a longtime dream realized, was sponsored by Birthright Israel, a philanthropic group whose mission is connecting young Jewish adults with their roots by bringing them for a 10-day visit to the Jewish Homeland.”

The email from Hillel’s Diamond provided email addresses that students could contact for grief counseling. “Mason Hillel staff are also available to meet with students who would like to find out how to commemorate Mathew’s memory,” he wrote.

Diamond declined a request to speak to WJW about Shor, as did Phi Sigma Kappa’s GMU chapter.

Shor is survived by his parents, Sam and Bonnie Shor of Reston; a brother, Jeffrey Shor of Baltimore; grandparents Alma Shor of Ashburn, Va., and Felicia and Irving Haytowitz of Chapel Hill, N.C.; aunts and uncles Bob and Gail Shor of Reston, Robin and Doug Robinson of Chapel Hill, and Judy and Frank Gallo of Somers, N.Y.; and cousins, according to the funeral home’s obituary.

The family requested that donations be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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