MONTREAL — A Montreal man who was killed in Israel during a surprise attack by Hamas earlier this month was remembered as a hero and a "larger-than-life" personality at a funeral Thursday.
A casket draped in the flag of Israel was carried into the packed chapel of a Jewish funeral home in Montreal as the service for Alexandre Look began.
Look's father, Alain Look, said his son died while protecting others at the onset of Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The 33-year-old was among the more than 260 people who were killed while attending a musical festival near the border between Israel and Gaza.
"Selfishly, I wish just once he would have been less of a hero," Look told the packed chapel. "We still had so much more living to do. So many more memories to create."
Look was raised in Montreal and lived in Mexico, but went to visit Israel – a country he loved. On Thursday, his father expressed anger at Israel for failing to prevent the Oct. 7 attack but urged Jews to be inspired by his son to stand together.
"Alex was a proud Zionist. Sadly, Israel failed him and so many others on that black Saturday," he said. "We must stand united. We are one. Bad things only happen to us when we are divided."
He also shared fond memories of his son, who was nicknamed "Coco," and praised his kindness and generosity.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral, with many standing at the back of the full chapel – which has a capacity of 800 people – as others watching the service from the lobby on television screens. As the eulogies were read, some mourners wept openly.
One of Look's friends, Johnny Lallouz, described a man who was exceptionally generous to his friends, family and community, and who opened his doors to him when he was going through a tough time. Others who spoke recounted stories they had been told of how he used his body to shield other festival-goers during the attack, potentially saving their lives.
Paul Hirschson, the consul general of Israel in Montreal, addressed the mourners and apologized to Look's parents for what happened. "Raquel, Alain, I'm sorry we couldn't protect your boy and one of his friends," he said. Moments later, he added, "I made you one promise: we'll bring him home. Alex is home."
Rabbi Yossi Shanowitz of Chabad of Westmount, a religious outreach centre, told the service that the brutal murder of Look and more than 1,400 others Oct. 7 has brought Jewish people together.
"The enemy thought that they're going to crush our sprits, they were wrong, they broke our hearts, but our spirits are on fire," he said.
David Martin, a friend and business partner of Look's, said after the service that the turnout was an indication of how heartbroken people are. "We're all hurting a lot because he had so much to still live for. It's just a huge shame that he's no longer with us," he said.
Martin said that as a businessman, Look was excited by seeing his employees grow and succeed. "He gave so much of himself to everybody, to his friendships, he really worked on his relationships, so that is why it's so hard for everybody," he said.
Others at the ceremony hadn't known Look but wanted to be present. "It just touched me, it touched my family, it just touched all of us," said Faye Stern. "We just were all so affected."
Global Affairs Canada says six Canadian citizens and one person with deep connections to Canada have died in the current hostilities, while two Canadians remain missing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.
Morgan Lowrie and Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press