Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Slain Israeli Professor Saved Others in Va. Tech Massacre

Slain Israeli Professor Saved Others in Va. Tech Massacre

30 Nisan 5767, April 18, '07

Published: 04/17/07, 8:17 AM

by Gil Ronen

(IsraelNN.com)

As Israel observed Holocaust Day, thousands of miles away, A Rumanian-born Holocaust survivor gave his life in another senseless murder - and apparently in an act of heroism.

Among the 32 people killed by a lone gunman at Virginia Tech Monday is 77-year-old engineering professor, Liviu Librescu, a citizen of Israel. According to eyewitness accounts, Librescu ran to the door of his classroom and blocked it with his body – preventing the gunman from entering but getting shot to death himself as a result.

Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old student who had been in Librescu's class in room 204, told a reporter that at 9:05 a.m. the heard screams and a loud banging sound from the next-door classroom. When the students realized it was gunfire, he said, some hid behind tables, and others leapt from the classroom's windows. Calhoun himself was among the last to jump. "Before I jumped from the window, I turned around and looked at the professor, who stayed behind, maybe to block the door. He had been killed."

Librescu is survived by his wife of 42 years, Marlena, who was with him in Virginia, and sons Aryeh and Joe who are in Israel. They intend to bury him in Israel.

Asael Arad, an Israeli student who visited the widow after the tragedy, told Army Radio Tuesday that Marlena had been receiving e-mails from students who credited Prof. Librescu with saving their lives. "I lost my best friend," the widow told a reporter for NRG at her home near the Blacksburg campus. "He was a great person, who loved teaching more than anything." Marlena said someone had initially informed her that her husband was injured in the shooting. "I looked for him in the hospitals all day but I didn't find him," she said.

The Librescus are Rumanian Jews who came on aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in 1978 – after then-Prime Minister Begin interceded on their behalf with the Rumanian government, according to Marlena. The couple went on a sabbatical to the United States since 1986 and has been living there ever since.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mr Bagel said...

Its so hard to make any sense of all this. Its inspiring to see this man's love of his students, and indeed passion for teaching, still lecturing at 77.

In contrast its also disheartening to see an individual who not only has taken the lives of 32 innocents, but the vast majority of them being at the very start of their adult lives.

Could you contrast two individuals so much?

One willing to save a life to save the world, the other willing to kill beyond comprehension.

The death of the 32 innocent people is a crime of hatred beyond comprehension. 32 lives, 64 Parents, 250 sisters and brothers, hundreds of uncles and Aunts, thousands of friends all devastated because of the insane selfishness of one twisted individual.

Why?

8:59 PM  
Blogger Elaine said...

Aaron,

It's great to have you stop by, and I couldn't agree more with what you said !! Two polar opposites for sure !! One bent on destruction, the other on the absolute value of each individual life !!

Why ??? That's a great question that I think only G-D can answer, but maybe it might have something to do with their backgrounds ?? The professor, a survivor of the Holocaust, had witnessed, first hand, as a child, the senseless waste of human lives, and had determined to make his own life count for something, to value and to nurture each individual for the advancement of mankind, and the slayer had also made a determination, but to a very different end.

I don't think it was a coincidence that it occurred on the same day as National Holocaust Memorial Day !! A very wise Rabbi once said, that, "in this world there are no such things as coincidences, that every event, no matter how seemingly insignificant, or how monumental, is orchestrated by G-D to deliver a message to those who will hear it !!" I think this was one of those events designed to deliver a message if we will hear it !!

We live in a time when each individual life is so pregnant with potential for good, but sadly, also for great evil. A time when life is often treated as disposable, and of no value by the many, while treasured and preserved by the few. I think the answer we are looking for is as old as time, there are two elements at work in this world, one to redeem, and the other to destroy.

If there is any good to be taken from this tragic event, perhaps it is this realization !! As G-D said so long ago, "I set before you life and death, the blessing, and the curse. Choose life", we each must choose to be either instruments of life, or instruments of destruction. The good professor chose life, the slayer chose destruction.

Which will we choose ???

4:21 AM  

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