TEL AVIV (JTA) — They all lived on the same street. They had all moved there from abroad. They were all rabbis. They all prayed at the same synagogue.
And it was at that Jerusalem synagogue that they were all murdered on Tuesday morning.
Mosheh Twersky, 59; Kalman Levine, 55; Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; and Avraham Goldberg, 68, were killed when two cousins from eastern Jerusalem entered Bnei Torah Kehillat Yaakov, in the haredi Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, wielding a gun and butcher knives. The attackers, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, injured seven others before they were killed at the scene by Israeli police.
An Israeli Druze police officer — Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druze village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee — died Tuesday night of wounds suffered during the shootout with the assailants. He was married with a young son.
Twersky, Levine and Kupinsky were Americans. Goldberg was from England. All of the men were laid to rest Tuesday in Jerusalem.
“We are here, standing in front of these three holy men, the best of our community, Torah scholars whose blood flowed like water,” said Rabbi Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, the chief rabbi of Bnei Torah, according to the Times of Israel.
Twersky, the head of the Toras Moshe Yeshiva, was the eldest grandson of the influential American Orthodox scholar Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik. Twersky left behind his wife, five children and 10 grandchildren.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division and a student of Soleveitchik, knew Twersky for most of his life and told JTA “he was in every respect extraordinary,” noting “his kindness, his stunning brilliance.”
“He was a great scholar. You saw his devotion to his students and their love for him,” Genack said. “He was reserved, very insightful. He came from the most exalted rabbinic family and yet he was just so humble.”
Levine, who is survived by his wife, nine children and five grandchildren, grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He was born Cary Levine and attended the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy there. A friend told the Kansas City Star that he was a “gentle soul with a kind heart.” His son eulogized him Tuesday as a diligent scholar.
“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,” the son said, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “Abba, you were in the middle of saying the Shema [prayer] when your soul left your body and the terrorists came and murdered you.”
Kupinsky, who also emigrated from the United States, leaves behind his wife and five children. He lost a daughter, Chaya Chana, who died in her sleep two years ago at 13. According to the Foreign Ministry, he was known to be very generous and was a daily worshipper at the synagogue.
Goldberg, who moved to Israel in 1993, is survived by his wife, six children and grandchildren. His friend from the neighborhood, David Osborne, remembered him as devout and kind.
“He was the most wonderful person you could meet, a pillar of the community,” Osborne told the British Jewish News. “Avraham prayed there most days for the last 10 years or so. He was a devout Jew with no political agenda. All he wanted was to live a peaceful life.”
Saif, a traffic cop, was the married father of a baby daughter.
A rabbi at Bnei Torah, Mordechai Rubin, eulogized Saif Wednesday at his funeral, held in the northern Israeli village Yanuh-Jat. “We came from Jerusalem, from the place of the massacre … simply to be with you and to cry with you,” according to the Times of Israel. “Zidan showed courage. He was the first at the battle. He stood like a wall, with his body, with his head, in order to save the souls of those in the synagogue. The loss of Zidan is our loss as well as that of the Druze community and we feel, especially at times like this, a kinship with the Druze community. The devotion and the determination of Zidan should be an example to us all — to the Druze and to the Jews.”
The terrorists in Tuesday’s attack were identified as Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal.