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Four Rabbis Slaughtered in Synagogue During Prayers

November 18, 2014

On Tuesday morning, November 18 at 7:00, two Palestinian terrorists walked into a synagogue in Jerusalem, murdered four rabbis praying there and wounded seven others before being shot by police, in the latest in a chain of attacks surrounding the current conflict over the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, originally from Boston, was a top-notch scholar and a devoted teacher of Talmud who trained hundreds of students over a 22-year career at Yeshivas Toras Moshe. "He had an encyclopedic knowledge and a unique way of making complex topics crystal clear, summarizing the issues and the various opinions. He knew every student personally and followed their development, encouraging each one while they were in his school and afterwards. We will miss him dearly," said one student of Rabbi Twersky.

Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, was a British-born rabbi, originally from Liverpool. He studied for many years in the Gateshead Yeshivah and held a doctorate in chemistry. While studying as a member of the Gateshead Kollel, he supported his family by operating a consulting business at night, utilizing his expertise in chemical powders. He was described as a peace-loving and devout father of six, a 'pillar of the community'. His cousin Michelle Hirschfield this afternoon described him as a 'peacemaker' and a 'generous, family man' adding that that he had worked in London before moving to live in the Holy Land with his family in 1993 in search of a quiet life.

Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, immigrated to the Holy Land from the United States and worked in computers and as the supervising rabbi of a bakery. He had studied at the Jerusalem academy of Rabbi Tzvi Kushalevsky. Rabbi Kupinsky was known to never refuse anyone seeking assistance in any form, always looking for ways to help others.

Rabbi Kalman Zeev Levine, 55, was born in the United States and immigrated to the Holy Land after his marriage. He devoted himself to study, both at the Lev Avraham kollel in Mea Shearim and the evening kollel at Kehillas Bnei Torah, the same synagogue at which the terror attack took place. Rabbi Levine was particularly remembered for his lengthy prayers and tremendous dedication to Torah study. “He was always the last one praying," said a friend. "He would get up at sunrise and go to bed at two in the morning. He hardly slept and always had a holy book in his hand.”

What a tragedy that these precious and holy scholars fell victim to a conflict of which they had no part. They were decidedly non-Zionist and non-political individuals, whose only goal was to study and teach Torah.

The Rabbinical Court of Eidah Chareidis published a poster expressing shock and sorrow at the murders and calling for public prayer and soul-searching. The poster quoted the Torah principle that when tragic events occur, we must cry out in prayer to help ourselves understand that the tragedy occurred because of our sins (Rambam, beginning of Hilchos Taanis).

"One cause of these events is the nationalistic spirit which has recently spread and aroused the hatred of the non-Jews, and especially at fault are those who incite other Jews to ascend the Temple Mount, which is a most severe sin, as Jewish legal authorities have ruled. As long as the Jewish people is in exile, we have no authority or even any desire to take any place that belongs to the non-Jews."

The poster was signed by the members of the Rabbinical court: Rabbi Yitzchok Tovia Weiss, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Ullman, Rabbi Naftali Frankel, Rabbi Yehoshua Rosenberger, Rabbi Yaakov Mendel Yarovitch and Rabbi Yehuda Fisher.

To read the original poster in Hebrew, click here.

A police officer who was shot during the struggle with the terrorists later died of his wounds, bringing the death toll to 5. The officer was identified as Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druze village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee.

In recent months, Zionist militants have stepped up their visits to the Temple Mount, today the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. Often militants prayed surreptitiously during these visits (for instance by pretending to speak into mobile phones) or attempted to smuggle in animals to offer as sacrifices. They are backed by radical rabbis who challenge the traditional religious ban on Jews going atop the Temple Mount. The campaign to demand the right for Jews to pray (or even to enjoy special times with exclusive access) has been joined by prominent Israeli politicians.

Read our previous article about the Temple Mount conflict.