Jewish Pensioner, Niece Killed in Bomb Attack on Moscow Building
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Jewish Pensioner, Niece Killed in Bomb Attack on Moscow Building

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On the eve of the Jewish new year, a Moscow synagogue mailed out wall calendars for the year 5760 to several thousand Jewish families in the Russian capital.

The one addressed to Bella Zutler was never delivered. The 62-year-old Muscovite was killed in last week’s terrorist attack on her residential building in southern Moscow.

According to Berel Lazar, rabbi of the Marina Roscha synagogue, which maintains Moscow’s largest database of Jewish families living in the capital, at least six Jews died in an explosion on the night of Sept. 13 that left at least 118 dead.

Zutler, a pensioner who lived alone, died along with her niece, Irina Fleishman, 37. Hours before the early morning blast, Zutler entertained guests for her birthday. After her friends and family left, Fleishman, who lived in a distant part of town, stayed with her aunt overnight to avoid a lengthy late- night journey.

Four days later, Lazar officiated at the funeral of Zutler and Fleishman at Vostraykovo Cemetery, Moscow’s only graveyard with a separate Jewish section.

After rescuers recovered Zutler’s body under the ruins, her son, Arkady, arranged the burial through the synagogue. He said his mother was not an observant Jew, yet it was important to give her a Jewish burial.

Fleishman, whose body was found in the rubble three days after the explosion, was buried in the same grave as her aunt.

“If they were destined to leave together, they should lay together,” Arkady said.

“She was the heart of the whole family,” he said of his mother, his eyes filling with tears.

He recalled that last Monday, he was awakened at 5 a.m. by a terrible sound. He called his mother, who lived across the street, to find out what happened.

“I thought she could not be asleep either.” But there was no answer.

He was the first at the scene only a few minutes after the blast, clambering up the ruins of what moments earlier was a nine-story residential building.

“I realized at once that I lost them,” Arkady said.

What had been a huge building was just a column of dust and smoke.

“I was shocked by the deathly silence,” he said.

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