By Ari Jesner, Yoni's eldest brother.
Despite being the youngest of the four Jesner children, Yoni was very much his own person, exceptionally determined and single-minded. Although in many respects he followed in his older siblings footsteps, he carved out his own unique path. He was closest in age (with a ten year gap) to his sister Yael, who adored the fun, warmth and patience of his sweet personality.
Yoni really was something special. He had the unique gift of befriending everyone: whether 90-year-olds in synagogue, six-year-olds at his local youth group, or the laundry man where Yoni studied in Israel. Yoni counted all these amongst his friends.
He had the most bizarre and ridiculous sense of humour. He could make anyone laugh no matter what the situation. Yoni was also extremely caring. He was the one who would always ensure that no Shabbat afternoon went by without all four of us going to visit our grandfather. He cared passionately about those things that were important to him and worked tirelessly to ensure he was doing the maximum to help as many people and good causes as possible. He had a very strong sense of what was right and fair and would never shy away from arguing his corner. Every decision Yoni made was deliberated over and thought through very carefully.
At first when Yoni went to study at Yeshiva in Israel on his gap year, many people thought he would drop out because he didn’t seem serious and was such a joker. To their amazement he turned out to be one of most serious and dedicated students. He helped a lot of the boys with their learning and gave up some of his time to learn with kids from the local neighbourhood. Most importantly though Yoni introduced the Yeshiva to ‘Yoni humour’. If you speak to the boys he was in Yeshiva with they have plenty of stories to tell!
Yoni was a gifted student, he achieved ‘A’ grades all the way through school and was elected a school prefect. He was so busy with community work that our mum always complained that he was never at home. Where exactly he found the time to study is a mystery to everyone. He was the force behind the rejuvenation and expansion of Glasgow Bnei Akiva, his local youth group. He organised and ran cross-communal events as well as inter-youth movement activities. Yoni was responsible for sending the Jewish Youth delegation to the Scottish Parliament. He was a Jewish Studies teacher and was in charge of running the children and youth services at his local synagogue where he also assisted the Rabbi. Yoni found the time to tutor other youngsters to help them with their schoolwork and studied himself at the Glasgow Yeshiva. Yoni was also the youngest volunteer at the Glasgow Jewish burial society. He read from the Torah in synagogue almost every week and all this he accomplished in his final year of school when he was also to sit his A-levels. In true Yoni style he obtained 5 ‘A’s and secured a place to study medicine at University College London. His grades were in the top 4 students in Scotland that year. It is fair to say, without exaggeration, that Yoni in his 19 years achieved more than many people do in a lifetime.
Yoni also wrote and led Jewish assemblies at the school he attended. He saw these as a vital opportunity to educate. Yoni was concerned that when he left Glasgow there would be no-one to continue with the assemblies and so before he left to study at Yeshiva in Israel, Yoni turned down an inter-railing holiday around Europe with his friends and instead spent four weeks at the community centre in Glasgow writing assemblies for the entire year he would be away so Glasgow's young people would not have to go without.
Yoni achieved more in his 19 years than many achieve in 90.