November 18, 2014 / 8:01 PM / 4 years ago

U.S.-born rabbis slain in Israel praised; protesters at U.N. Palestinian mission

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Family and friends remembered three U.S.-born rabbis slain in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, praising one as the scion of his Boston family’s rabbinical dynasty and another as “one of the kindest souls” in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.

As tributes poured in, about 40 demonstrators chanted and waved flags outside the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations in New York to express outrage that two Palestinians wielding a meat cleaver and gun killed the rabbis during Jewish morning prayers.

A few protesters pushed through police barricades and placed signs on the mission doorstep. One read, “Abbas: Your Intolerance Led to Jerusalem Massacre Today,” referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned the attack.

A police officer who responded to the scene was shot and later died of his wounds.

Three rabbis killed had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. They were identified as Mosheh Twersky, 59; Kalman William Levine, 55; and Aryeh Kupinsky, 43. A fourth, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, was a 68-year-old British-Israeli.

Rabbi Levine, known as Cary to friends from his hometown of Kansas City, moved to Israel shortly after college to devote his life to religious studies, said friend and former classmate Debbie Sosland-Edelman.

“He was all about reaching out to others. He was one of the kindest souls you would ever want to know,” she said.

Twersky came from one of the most revered families in the Boston-area Orthodox community. His late grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, founded the Maimonides School in suburban Brookline, considered the first Jewish day school in New England and a cornerstone of the Modern Orthodox movement that aims to bridge religion and modern life. 

Twersky’s father, Rabbi Isadore Twersky, was a longtime professor at Harvard University and director of its Center for Jewish Studies. 

Mosheh Twersky graduated from Maimonides in 1973 and moved to Israel, where he became dean of Jerusalem’s Toras Moshe yeshiva religious school.

His eldest son, Meshulam Twersky, hailed him at his Jerusalem funeral on Tuesday as someone “you could always pour your heart out to.”

Kupinsky, also the son of a rabbi, moved with his family to Israel in 1982, according to his brother, Dovid Kupinsky.

Rafi Goldmeier, a friend, said Kupinsky, who had lived in Detroit, was a kind and helpful person.

“When we made a Bar Mitzvah, instead of sitting and enjoying the party, he immediately rolled up his sleeves, went to the kitchen and figured out what to take charge of,” Goldmeier said.

Additional reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Missouri, Ted Siefer in Lowell, Massachusetts, Sebastien Malo in New York and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Howard Goller and Dan Grebler

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