Thousands of mourners gathered in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood Tuesday evening to pay their last respects to three of the four men killed while praying in their local synagogue earlier in the day in a terrorist attack. A fifth victim, policeman Zidan Saif, who was shot in the head in the shootout with the terrorists, died of his wounds late Tuesday in the hospital.
The crowd assembled outside the synagogue where Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 40, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, and Rabbi Kalman Levine, 50, were killed by two Palestinian terrorists. The three were buried at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in a joint funeral.
The funeral of the fourth victim, 59-year-old Rabbi Moshe Twersky, took place earlier on Tuesday.
Twersky, Kupinsky and Levine also held US citizenship, and Goldberg held British citizenship.
President Reuven Rivlin arrived at the synagogue to pay his respects to the victims’ families. Shas MK Eli Yishai and a number of other Israeli parliamentarians also attended the funerals.
Rabbi Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, chief rabbi of the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, where the four worshipers were killed during their morning prayers, spoke at the joint funeral for the three victims.
“We are here, standing in front of these three holy men, the best of our community, Torah scholars whose blood flowed like water,” he said. “When we count the widows and orphans that were added to the Israeli nation this morning, four widows, 24 orphans on one street.”
All four men lived on the same street in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in western Jerusalem. One of the attackers, cousins from East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber, worked at a neighborhood store.
“Wrapped in a prayer shawl and phylacteries, the four victims were massacred, and numerous more suffered injuries,” Rubin said. “We have passed from a private state of mourning to a public one.”
Haim Kupinsky, whose brother was slain in the attack, spoke of his sibling’s humble attitude: “He was righteous in his modesty.” Kupinsky, a father of five, lost his 13-year-old daughter two years ago, Ynet reported.
Levine’s son told of his father’s dedication to studying Torah and prayers.
“He was very devoted to Torah study and got up for morning prayers before sunrise,” he said. Levine, 50, is survived by nine children and five grandchildren. He worked as a tutor in a men’s seminary.
Goldberg moved to Israel in 1993 from the United Kingdom, and had six children. He was originally from Liverpool, but later lived in London’s Golders Green neighborhood.
Twersky, the grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the founder of the Modern Orthodox movement, moved to Israel from Boston in 1990 and was the head of the Torat Moshe religious seminary in Jerusalem. The scion of a prominent rabbinic family, he is survived by his wife, five children aged 23 to 33, and 10 grandchildren.
Twersky’s funeral procession began in the Sanhedria neighborhood where he taught and ended in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery.
“I didn’t think that, at this young age, I would stand and eulogize you,” said one of Twersky’s sons at the funeral.
Another of Twersky’s sons spoke of his father being a “son and servant” to God. “He was a man of character,” he said. “He treated me with such love and always made me feel good about every matter and issue.”
“He was a great and holy man during his life — not just after his death,” said Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, a prominent ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem rabbi. “He was so close to God during his holy life and was murdered during his prayers, with his tefillin [phylacteries] on his head.”
The four victims were killed and several more injured when the two East Jerusalem men, Ghassan Abu Jamal and Uday Abu Jamal, stormed into the synagogue and religious institution early Tuesday with an ax, a meat cleaver and a gun. They then began attacking worshipers in a spree of violence that lasted several minutes. The two terrorists were killed by police in a shootout.
Policemen Zidan Saif died of his injuries, sustained in the shootout, late Tuesday. Three other victims were also in critical condition.