Israel grieves after J’salem shul atrocity
They all lived on the same street. They had all moved to Jerusalem from abroad. They were all rabbis. They all prayed at the same shul, the Jerusalem Shul that they were all murdered at on Tuesday morning.
Mosheh Twersky, 59; Kalman Levine, 55; Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; and Avraham Goldberg, 68, were killed when two cousins from eastern Jerusalem entered Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov, in the haredi Orthodox neighburhood of Har Nof, wielding a gun and butcher knives. The attackers, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, injured seven others before they were killed at the scene by Israeli police.
An Israeli Druze police officer – Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druze village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee – died Tuesday night of wounds suffered during the shootout with the assailants.
Twersky, Levine and Kupinsky were Americans. Goldberg was from England. All of the men were laid to rest Tuesday in Jerusalem.
RIGHT: Israeli emergency services personnel gather blood and other human remains from the sidewalk for proper burial at the scene of an attack Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem on November 18 (photo credit: AFP/Jack Guez)
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu singled out one person for blame: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In a statement issued by his office, Abbas denounced the Tuesday morning attack, saying he “condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it”. But over the past few weeks, as a string of violent attacks have unsettled Jerusalemites, Abbas has issued statements some see as encouraging violence against Israelis.
In late October, he called for a “day of rage” over the temporary closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying the move amounted to a “declaration of war.” Days later he called the shooter of Jewish Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick a “martyr” in a letter to the attacker’s family.
“This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen, incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring,” Netanyahu said following the synagogue attack, using Abbas’ nom de guerre. “We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers.”
In the attack, the two Palestinians entered a synagogue in a Hareidi neighbourhood of Jerusalem and attacked worshippers with a gun and butcher knives.
The massive Tuesday funeral
“We are here, standing in front of these three holy men, the best of our community, Torah scholars whose blood flowed like water,” said Rabbi Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, the chief rabbi of Bnei Torah, according to the Times of Israel.
Twersky, the head of the Toras Moshe Yeshiva, was the eldest grandson of the influential American Orthodox scholar Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik. Twersky left behind his wife, five children and 10 grandchildren.
LEFT: The funeral was said to be one of the largest ever in Jerusalem – see full picture below the story
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division and a student of Soleveitchik, knew Twersky for most of his life and told JTA “he was in every respect extraordinary”, noting “his kindness, his stunning brilliance”.
“He was a great scholar. You saw his devotion to his students and their love for him,” Genack said. “He was reserved, very insightful. He came from the most exalted rabbinic family and yet he was just so humble.”
Levine, who is survived by his wife, nine children and five grandchildren, grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He was born Cary Levine and attended the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy there. A friend told the Kansas City Star that he was a “gentle soul with a kind heart.” His son eulogised him on Tuesday as a diligent scholar.
“My father would study all day long and would return home at night only to learn some more until he would fall asleep in his chair,” the son said, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “Abba, you were in the middle of saying the Shema https://www.sajr.co.za/images/default-source/default-album/har-nof-funeral-full.jpg”>
The funeral was said to be one of the largest ever in Jerusalem