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Boston Jewish Community Remembers Victims of Jerusalem Terror Attack

BOSTON – The terror attack in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014 induced the Boston Jewish community to respond with prayers, a public rally, and Torah learning.

Mike Rosenberg—the alumni director of Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts—sent an email message to alumni on November 18.  The message acknowledged, “with profound sadness and dismay,” that Rabbi Moshe Twersky “was murdered in a terrorist attack at a synagogue in Har Nof, Yerushalayim, this morning.”  Rabbi Moshe Twersky graduated from Maimonides in 1973.

A memorial prayer service was held at Maimonides School on the evening of November 18.  Naty Katz, a 1973 classmate and current head of school at Maimonides, addressed a crowd of some 500 people.  Mr. Katz said, “I will always remember Moshe for his modesty, brilliance, his smile, and his kindness.”  The Maimonides School website has additional quotations from Mr. Katz and his fellow speakers.

A candlelight vigil was held in Copley Square in Boston on November 23 at 4:30 PM.  About one hundred men and women stood in the twilight holding signs supporting Israel and candles to remember the victims.

Gil Bloom organized the candlelight vigil on behalf of the Boston Israel Action Committee.  The event was co-sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Americans for Peace and Tolerance, and several synagogues and temples in Greater Boston.

Mr. Bloom said that the men who were killed in the terror attack were doing their jobs—“tafkid” in Hebrew. The men who prayed in the Kehillat Yaakov synagogue were performing a religious duty.  Similarly, the Druze police officer, Zidan Saif, was performing his duty to protect the people of Israel when the attackers killed him. Mr. Bloom recited the Hebrew names of the five murder victims and paused for a moment of silence to remember them.

Jeremy Burton, speaking on behalf of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that people immediately wonder, “Why did this happen?” He answered by referring back to the work of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who founded Maimonides School and taught for many years at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Soloveitchik was also Rabbi Twersky’s grandfather. According to Mr. Burton, Rabbi Soloveitchik taught that when God comes knocking, we don’t ask “why,” but rather, “what to do.”

A cantor then recited the “Kel Malei” prayer. The community sang Hatikvah.

Gil concluded the event by asking the community, “What is our tafkid?” He encouraged the community to act in support of Israel, concluding, “This should be the beginning.”

On November 24, Maimonides School announced a communal program to learn Mishnah in memory of Rabbi Twersky and the other victims. A Siyum is planned for December 17, which is the “shloshim”—the 30th day after the tragedy. Within two days, the online sign-up sheet showed that volunteers had committed to learn the entire corpus of Mishnah; some sections of Mishnah will be studied by two different people.