Yesterday, tragedy struck in Jerusalem. A group of religious men were finishing their morning prayers at Kehillat B’nei Torah, a synagogue in Jerusalem, when two terrorists, armed with a gun and butcher knives, shattered the silence of the silent prayer. Five Israelis died in the bloody attack, and seven were injured. It was the deadliest attack on Israeli civilians in more than three years, and the deadliest in Jerusalem since 2008.
The five victims include three rabbis, two American, and one British. One of them, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, a native of Boston, was a famous scholar, as well as the principal (rosh yeshiva) of a school. His family is one of the most famous rabbinic families in the Jewish world since the 18th century; his father was a Hasidic Jew whose unusual accomplishments include an education in secular independent schools, and a professorship at Harvard. A fourth victim, Aryeh Kupinsky, was born in Rhode Island, and moved to Israel as a boy. He leaves behind his wife and five children, the youngest of whom is 5 years old. The fifth victim, Zidan Saif, who died late yesterday of his injuries, was an Israeli police officer whose heroic actions as the first responder on the scene ended the slaughter. Officer Saif, a member of Israel’s Druze community, leaves behind his wife and their four-month-old daughter. Thousands of Israelis attended all of their funerals.
What can we say in the face of such hatred, in the face of such evil? There are no words to express our horror that our people should be murdered in cold blood, or that a place of prayer should become a place of violence. There are no words to express our anger at those who would murder teachers and parents in God’s name. There are no words to express our despair that among Israel’s neighbors, Hamas is not the only voice to treat this murder as a cause for celebration.
This Shabbat at Beth David, at both Friday night and Shabbat morning services, we will say Kaddish for the victims of this attack. Tomorrow at 7 pm, at the program hosted by Main Line Reform Temple that Beth David is cosponsoring together with Beth Am Israel, our three communities will come together in prayer before hearing the planned presentation by Daniel Sokatch, the head of the New Israel Fund.
Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim – We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.