Four rabbis were heinously murdered inside of Jerusalem synagogue on the morning of November 18. The rabbis were praying with about 20 other people when two Palestinian men broke in and attacked the congregation with meat cleavers and a gun. The attackers shot six other worshippers, not fatally, before police first-responders shot-and-killed the attackers.
Three of those who were killed were named as Moshe Twersky, Arye Kupinsky and Kalmen Levine. They are all U.S. citizens. A fourth rabbi who died was English-born Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, reports Haaretz.
Here’s what you need to know about the late Rabbi Moshe Twersky:
1. He Was a Teacher of American Students in Israel
Twersky, 60, had been the dean of Torat Moshe yeshiva in Israel. The school teaches American-Jewish students. Twersky taught the advanced classes, reports the Jewish Press. In addition to Americans, the school also teaches students from South Africa, Canada and the United Kingdom. One of his students, Jonathan Benaim, told the BBC:
I am a final year university student in London. I am a pupil of Rabbi Moshe Twersky having studied with him for a year. Words cannot do justice as to how righteous a man he was. Not only did he die because of his religion, more significantly, he was able to live every moment for it. The world has suffered a terrific loss.
2. Rabbi Twersky Was Married With 5 Kids
He is survived by his wife, Miriam and their five children, reports the Jewish Press. He lived in the Har Nof neighborhood, where he was killed, reports Haaretz. The neighborhood is popular among English-speaking immigrants to Jerusalem.
His father-in-law was Brooklyn, New York, Rabbi Abba Berman. NBC New York reports that one of Rabbi Twersky’s sons is Rafael Twersky, also a rabbi, who lives in the Lakewood Township in New Jersey. He studies at Beth Medrash Govoah, known as Lakewood Yeshiva.
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The profile adds that she graduated from Harvard University and the Columbia University School of Law. Her husband, Jonathan Rosenblatt, is known for his work in supporting peace efforts between Palestinians and Israelis.
3. His Funeral Was Attended by Thousands
4. His Father Was a Harvard Professor
His father was a prominent American-Jewish leader, Rabbi Isadore Twersky, started the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies in 1978. He had been a professor at Harvard and prominent Boston rabbi until his death in 1997. In that obit, Jay Harris, a prominent Jewish scholar, said Twersky, “was a real pioneer, pushing us all to rethink the nature of Jewish spirituality in the medieval period and the modern period.”
5. During His Life, Twersky’s Grandfather Ordained 2,000 Rabbis
His grandfather was Joseph B. Soloveitchik, he was a dean at New York’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University. According to his New York Times obituary, during his time as dean he ordained 2,000 rabbis, more than any other American seminary teacher. The obit added that Rabbi Soloveitchik brought his family to America from their native Belarus in 1932, settling in Massachusetts and starting the first Jewish day school in New England. Haaretz referred to Rabbi Soloveitchik as one of the founders of modern Orthodox Judaism.