Reuters. WSJ. Jerusalem Post, haaretz, New York Times contributed to this report.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Unbearable Grief, Rivers Of Tears And Unspeakable Sorrow: Israel Buries Victims Of Synagogue Bloodbath
Jerusalem - Horrific images of blood stained talleisim burned indelibly into their minds, thousands turned out to pay their respects to the four victims of today’s brutal and incomprehensible seven minute long synagogue massacre.
All four victims, 59 year old Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 68 year old Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 55 year old Rabbi Kalman Levine and 43 year old R’ Aryeh Kupinsky, were buried today on Har Hamenuchos. The four men, all residents of Rechov Agassi in Har Nof, leave behind four widows, a collective 24 orphans and a broken-hearted nation, engulfed in tears.
The streets of Sanhedira Hamurchevet were jammed with mourners who turned out to accompany Rabbi Twersky, a rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Toras Moshe, on his final journey. The grandson of Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik, and the son of Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky a founding director of Harvard University’s Jewish studies center, Rabbi Twersky moved from Boston to Israel in 1990. Twersky lived next door to the Bnei Torah synagogue and was the father of five and grandfather of ten. His wife Miriam runs Jerusalem’s Hadar seminary.
“His neshama went out in the middle of his tefillos, the tefila of a tzaddik who was crowned with his tefillin,” said Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the first of several speakers at Rabbi Twersky’s funeral, which took place at Yeshiva Beit Hatalmud. “One who was so close to Hashem in his holy life and his neshama left with holiness and purity to its resting place, leaving us in despair.”
Brother in law, Rabbi Mordechai Altusky related how Rabbi Twersky would never take a day off from his learning saying, “Baruch Hashem I don’t need to travel for a vacation, I am on vacation every day here in Jerusalem.”
Rabbi Twersky’s eldest son, Rabbi Meshulem Twersky spoke tearfully about his father.
“I never thought that at this young age I would stand here and eulogize my father who toiled constantly in Torah. I cannot remember a Friday night where you slept. You always said that Shabbos is too precious to waste on sleep. The Torah was the joy of his life and he had no concept of b’di eved. He was careful in every mitzvah, large and small and he wanted to learn with my children because it says whoever teaches his grandson Torah it is as if he got it directly from Har Sinai.”
Son in law Rabbi Shimon Charlop recalled Rabbi Twersky’s broad knowledge of Torah.
“There were no rishonim that I said over to him that he didn’t already know,” said Rabbi Twersky. “Without exaggerating, he would be up learning until two in the morning, until the sugya he was learning was completely clear to him. There was nothing in his life besides Torah…Just two days ago we observed our grandmother’s yahrtzeit and I left him and all was well. I can’t believe that that was the last time.”
Avraham Twersky, an unmarried son, recalled his father’s close relationship with Rabbi Yisroel Eliyahu Weintraub and how he would spend every Purim with him in Bnei Brak.
“The talmidim there can testify that they would come and ask him questions and he would answer from various places in Shas. You instilled in us to learn as much as we could. I learned with you often and all my life you wanted me to grow in Torah. When I learned in Ponovich you would come frequently to Bnei Brak to learn with me. One time we didn’t have much time and we learned just the question on the sugya. I told you that I would have to think about the answer and you said that just for that alone it had been worth traveling to Bnei Brak.”
Avraham Twersky recounted how just this past Friday night his father had dozed off while learning.
“I came in silently so as not to wake you and you told me that I wasn’t helping you by being quiet,” said Avraham Twersky. “You said that I should have woken you up so that you could learn more.”
Avraham Twersky recalled his father as someone who never bore animosity toward anyone and expressed his profound anguish over his father’s untimely passing.
“Who will take me to the chupah? Who will guide me? Tatty, I ask you, all your life you were holy and pure, you used the Torah as your guide through life. Be a meilitz yosher for Ima, who gave her whole life so that you devote your life to learning Torah.”
Another of Rabbi Twersky’s sons is a Lakewood resident and a statement released by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, described this morning’s massacre as “heinous.”
“To have disorder and terror interrupt the calm of morning prayers is deplorable and sickening to the core. No words of comfort can provide solace to the four bereaved families who have lost loved ones.”
In Riverdale, Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, Rabbi Twersky’s brother in law described his as a “gently, saintly scholar” who lived “in the image of a gentle G-d.”
The air was heavy with sorrow at a joint levaya for Rabbi Levine, R’ Kupinsky and Rabbi Goldberg at Kehillat Bnei Torah, the site of this morning’s atrocities, as the sons of the three murdered men said kaddish together in unison.
Bnei Torah’s rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, described the four men as the best of the kehilla, referring to them as talmidei chochomim whose blood was spilled like water.
“They were butchered, wrapped in their talleisim and tefillin and many others were wounded,” said Rabbi Rubin. “Our hearts break as we see them in front of us now. Only a savage could do something like this. The nations of the world don’t understand. They don’t know. They think that we are talking about humans, but anyone who is schooled in the ways of the Torah understands that anyone who could do this is not human.”
Rabbi Rubin exhorted mourners not to retaliate and seek revenge for this morning’s massacre.
Rabbi Levine, who immigrated to Israel after his marriage, spent his days learning at the Lev Avraham Kollel in Mea Shearim and his nights at Bnei Torah’s evening kollel. He leaves behind nine children and five grandchildren.
“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,” said son Rabbi Yerachmiel Levine. “Abba, you were in the middle of saying the Shema when your soul left your body and the terrorists came and murdered you.”
A neighbor also spoke of Rabbi Levine’s incredible devotion to Torah study.
“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 sefer in his hand.”
R’ Kopinsky, a father of five children ages five to 15, worked in computers and was known for never refusing anyone who sought out his assistance. This marks the second time in two years that tragedy has struck the Kopinsky family, with 13 daughter Chaya Chana dying unexpectedly in her sleep two years ago.
R’ Kopinsky was remembered by his brother Chaim Kopinsky as a “man of kindness with modesty and humility.”
Rabbi Goldberg, a British national originally from Golders Green, worked in the publishing business before who moving to Israel in 1993. He leaves behind a wife, six children and several grandchildren.
“You were full of love for G-d and studying Torah and love of the individual and of health, eulogized brother in law Pinchas Markowitz.
“He was the most wonderful person you could meet, a pillar of the community,” said friend David Osborne. “All he wanted was to live a peaceful life.”
“He was very devout in his prayers and an extremely popular member of the synagogue,” added Osborne.
Osborne said that Goldberg’s wife is a secretary at Neve Yershalayim and that the couple often hosted guests.
“Their home was always an open one as they welcomed everyone in,” said Osborne.
A statement released by the Goldberg family said that the “accept the divine decree with love.”
Six others were reported injured in the attack, including two police officers, with four reportedly in serious condition. In the Mirrer Yeshiva, an urgent call went out for Tehillim for two victims who were seriously injured in this morning’s terror attack, Rabbi Shmuel Yeruchem Goldstein, head of a chabura in the yeshiva and Rabbi Yechiel Rothman whose son had learned until recently in the Mirrer.
Yehuda Meshi Zahav, founder of Zaka commented on the horrific scene in Har Nof this morning.
“To see Jews wearing tefillin and wrapped in the tallit, lying in pools of blood, i wondered if I was imaging scenes from the Holocaust.”
Reuters. WSJ. Jerusalem Post, haaretz, New York Times contributed to this report.