Six weeks ago, 29-year old brother, Bernard Ber Shalom Grempel disappeared in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. His sister is coordinating search efforts, and is asking the public for their help.
By Ettie Shurack
My 29-year old brother, Bernard Ber Shalom Grempel, was last seen on May 14, 2021, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. I had texted him earlier in the day, my parents spoke with him on the telephone, and he made some of his usual purchases like a Slurpee at 7-11 and a drink at a coffee shop. It seemed like a regular day for him. But then a few days went by and we hadn’t heard from him.
My brother is very close with his family, and so we started to worry when he didn’t return our calls and texts. He is a dedicated son who speaks with his mother daily and visits his parents weekly. He is a fantastic brother, who I immensely enjoy joking around with. He is a devoted uncle to my four children and often joins us for Shabbos dinner and a weekday visit. My daughter and three sons look forward to every minute they spend with their uncle. My brother’s face lights up each time he gets to hold my newborn, as he and my parents are our first visitors in the hospital. When I recently shared with him that I was pregnant with our fifth child Boruch Hashem, his face beamed and he was so excited to have this experience again this summer.
Bernard is a university graduate with an accounting degree. He is an accomplished competitive athlete for over 20 years. He competed at the Provincial level for swimming and the International Maccabee Games for soccer. He combined his love for sports and children into a 10 year career as a coach. Before switching his attention to accounting, he was a beloved swim coach with the competitive club where he first swam as an athlete starting when he was 5 years old, and then worked his way up from Volunteer Coach, to Junior Coach, to Senior Coach, and finally Head Coach. I have received countless messages from past swimmers and parents of swimmers of how much my brother impacted their lives and taught them values like work ethic, perseverance, and commitment. Bernard is a trustworthy friend, having the same close-knit group of friends since elementary school. I have never in my life heard my brother speak negatively about anyone or utter a single word of lashon hara. He has incredible middos, and a heart of gold. We would be grateful for tefillos and tehillim to be said in zchus of bringing Ber Shalom ben Elka Vitzah home safely and swiftly.
My brother visited Israel for the first time when he was thirteen, it was for the wedding of my husband and me in Yerushalayim. He was thrilled to go back as a young adult on the Birthright trip and had an incredible time. His face lit up when I told him that our family would be making Aliyah in June, plans which we have postponed while we actively search for my brother. He enthusiastically told me he planned to visit us frequently. One of the last phone calls I had with my brother was when he called me asking if I had borrowed volume two of The Book of our Heritage, a series he enjoys reading. The last visit I had with my brother was a few days before his disappearance when he came to our house to help move a bed that we were giving to my parents, since we were downsizing in preparation for our move. It has been heartbreaking spending Shabbos without my brother at our seuda, he very much enjoys the divrei Torah and artwork each of my children present, as well as the parsha-related inspirational stories my husband shares.
We are asking for your help to bring home this beloved son, wonderful brother, loving uncle, loyal friend, talented children’s coach, hardworking accountant, accomplished athlete, and all-around-wonderful guy. We have been searching for my brother day and night, 24/7. We have active volunteer search parties throughout the week and on weekends. We have distributed thousands of posters all over Greater Vancouver and have been posting on a variety of social media platforms.
We were fortunate to connect with Jay Schwartz, Chief of CommSAR (Community Search and Rescue) in Monsey, NY. For the past 4 weeks, he has shared valuable advice, knowledge, and insights around the clock on how to strategize our search parties. Unfortunately, due to COVID, U.S. teams cannot come and we have to hire local resources.
In addition to the police efforts, we hired a Private Investigator (P.I.) to help us expand the search. There are several specialized teams and services that we would like to make use of; however, the costs are beyond our means.
We have discovered that there are numerous expenses involved in the search efforts for my brother, and are most grateful for your contributions. We set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for helping us find Bernard Ber Shalom, a young man with a very special Jewish neshama. We are most appreciative for each and every contribution towards helping us bring my brother home, bezrat Hashem safely and swiftly.