In one violent moment four rabbis lost their lives. They had come from around the world to live in the Holy Land. Here they also found their final resting place.
At 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, two Arab terrorists wielding a gun and butcher knives entered a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Approximately 30 men were in the midst of the morning prayers, wearing their prayer shawls and phylacteries. The terrorists hacked and shot the Jewish worshipers, killing four and critically wounding others. Police Master Sergeant Zidan Sief, a Druze officer, also died fighting the murderers.
Five families were destroyed and 25 children were orphaned in one lethal massacre perpetrated by Islamic terrorists. A loyal non-Jewish citizen of Israel and four rabbis who had come from around the globe to settle in Israel were brutally murdered in the attack.
Three of the victims were American citizens; one was a British national.
Rabbi Avraham Goldberg
Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, a British-born rabbi from Liverpool, resided for many years at Golders Green in London and worked in publishing before moving to Israel in 1993.
“He was the most wonderful person you could meet, a pillar of the community,” said one of Rabbi Goldberg’s best friends, David Osborne, adding that Goldberg had prayed at the targeted synagogue most days for the last 10 years or so. “All he wanted was to live a peaceful life. His family are the nicest people you could meet. They had lots of children and several grandchildren.”
Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg was buried in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife, six children and several grandchildren.
Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky
Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, was born and raised in the metropolitan Detroit area, where his family were members of what is today Young Israel of Oak Park, one of the largest Orthodox Jewish congregations in Michigan. His parents taught at Wayne State University and were well known in their tight-knit community. Kupinsky attended elementary school at Akiva Hebrew Day School in Southfield, Michigan, until moving to Israel with his family at around the age of 10.
Rabbi Kupinsky, who worked in computers, was known for never refusing assistance to others, always searching for ways to help them.
He was buried in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife and five children, ages 5 to 16.
His daughter Chaya Chana tragically died two years ago in her sleep at the age of 13.
Rabbi Kalman Ze’ev Levine
Rabbi Kalman Ze’ev Levine, 55, was a native of Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1977, he spent two years studying at a yeshiva in Israel before returning to the U.S. to attend a post-high school study program at Yeshiva University Los Angeles (YULA). Levine returned to Israel again in the early 1980s, and this time it was for good.
Rabbi Levine devoted himself to Torah study, day and night.
Part of his life’s work was putting Orthodox Judaism in a positive light. Levine’s neighbor said that he always lived righteously. “He was always the last one praying at the synagogue. He would get up at sunrise and go to bed at two in the morning. He hardly slept and always had a book in his hand.”
Shimon Kraft, Levine’s best friend since childhood, spoke about their lives growing up. He described his friend as a very humble person who, while devoted to increasing his knowledge of Judaism and Torah, also had a sharp sense of humor and loved to joke around.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Levine, son of Rabbi Kalman Levine, eulogized his late father: “My father would study (Torah) all day long and would return home at night only to learn some more until he would fall asleep in his chair. Abba (Father), you were in the middle of saying the Shema (quintessential Jewish prayer) when your soul left your body and the terrorists came and murdered you.”
Rabbi Kalman Levine was buried in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. He is survived by his wife, nine children and five grandchildren, as well as his parents, Bernard and Joan Levine, who reside in Kansas.
Rabbi Moshe Twersky
Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, was a native of Boston who immigrated to Israel with his family in 1990. He lived next door to the synagogue where the attack took place and prayed there regularly.
Rabbi Twersky comes from an illustrious family. He was the elder son of Rabbi Isadore Twersky of Boston, founder of Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies, and a grandson of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who also held a doctorate in philosophy and is known as founder of the Modern Orthodox movement. Rabbi Twersky’s wife is the daughter of the late Rabbi Abba Berman, a renowned scholar of Talmud, and runs the Hadar Seminary for Women in Jerusalem.
“He was a big and righteous man during his life – not just after his death,” Rabbi Shmuel Aurbach, a leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, said in his eulogy at Rabbi Twersky’s funeral. “He was so close to God during his holy life and was murdered in the middle of his prayers.”
“On Shabbat nights he never slept but rather learned Torah,” Rabbi Twersky’s son added. “One time I woke up at 2 a.m. and he was still studying.”
He came “from a family of princes,” said Rabbi Marc Penner, dean of Yeshiva University in New York.
Rabbi Twersky was buried in Jerusalem’s Gival Shaul cemetery. He is survived by his wife Miriam and five children – three sons and two daughters – ages 23-33, and 10 grandchildren.
Author: United with Israel Staff
(With files from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)