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Rabbi From Kansas City Killed In Jerusalem Synagogue Attack


When armed assailants stormed a synagogue in Jerusalem yesterday, the attack was brutal. They used a meat cleaver, an axe and a gun. This morning, Israelis and people in other countries are mourning the five dead, three of whom were born in the U.S. NPR's Sam Sanders has this remembrance of one.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: The attack took place in the primarily ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, which is home to many English-speaking dual citizens. Four victims were in the synagogue for morning prayers, Avraham Goldberg from Great Britain and three dual U.S.-Israeli citizens - Moshe Twersky, the grandson of a prominent Boston Rabbi, Aryeh Kupinsky of the Detroit and Kalman Levine of Kansas City. Rabbi Shimon Kraft of Los Angeles was best friends with Levine.

RABBI SHIMON KRAFT: We grew up together in Kansas City, Missouri, met on the first day of second grade. You know, he was with his little sister on the - on the bus. And, you know, we got along well. We became playmates. He used to sleep over my house all the time. We were big Kansas City Royal fans.

SANDERS: Levine was born in 1959. While in college, Levine and Kraft went to Israel to study in 1982. Levine stayed. He and his wife, Chaya, settled in Jerusalem. In this religious community, large families are the norm. Levine had nine children. Altogether, the four victims from Har Nof left 24 children. Many of the men in Har Nof devote themselves full-time to religious study. That described Levine. One of his sons said he'd come home from studying and study some more, then fall asleep in his chair, still studying. Levine's friend Shimon Kraft.

KRAFT: He would always remember whatever Torah topic you had discussed with him last. Even if it was 10 years before, 15 years before, he'd remember exactly what he was discussing with you last time and pick up right where he left off. You know, that's what was on his mind all the time.

ALLAN EDELMAN: He cared about those fundamental issues of love your neighbor as yourself, we're all created in the image of God, justice, justice shall you pursue.

SANDERS: That's Allan Edelman, another friend of Levine. He spoke with NPR member station KCUR.

EDELMAN: The irony that such a sweet, wonderful, caring person would lose his life in such a tragic and horrible terrorist attack is just beyond belief.

SANDERS: All four of the men killed in the synagogue were buried within hours of the attack in accordance with Jewish religious law. The fifth victim, police officer Zidan Nahad Seif, was not Jewish. Seif was an Arab Druse citizen of Israel. He was shot responding to the attack and died last night. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: November 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM EST
In a previous audio version of this report, it was said that the attackers had more than one gun. In fact, authorities say a single gun was among the weapons used.
Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.

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