BOSTON (AP) — One of the three Americans killed in an attack at a synagogue in Israel on Tuesday had strong ties to the Boston area and came from a line of influential rabbis.
Rabbi Mosheh Twersky was one of four victims of the attack in which two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers and a gun stormed a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said. Three were dual U.S.-Israeli citizens and one was a dual British-Israeli citizen.
Police killed the attackers in a shootout.
Hundreds of people attended a remembrance service Tuesday night for Twersky, 59, at the Maimonides School in the Boston suburb of Brookline. Twersky was a 1973 graduate of the school founded by his grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, a prominent Jewish scholar.
Naty Katz, a classmate of Twersky’s who now heads the school, spoke at the service. “I will always remember our friend Mosheh, his modesty, his brilliance, his smile, his kindness,” Katz said, according to The Boston Globe. “We are all heartbroken.”
Another longtime friend, Danny Langermann, remembered Twersky’s skill as a football offensive lineman.
Langermann also recalled a long-ago hug from his friend, the Globe reported, saying, “if there is anything I will carry with me for the rest of my life it is that hug.”
Twersky was the son of Rabbi Isadore Twersky, a founding director of Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies and a scholar of Jewish history. Isadore Twersky died in 1997.
“I know that I speak for all of us in the CJS community when I say that we are heartbroken at the news of this unspeakable act of sacrilegious cruelty,” center director Eric Nelson said in a statement.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios, and Massachusetts Council of Churches executive director the Rev. Laura Everett issued a joint statement Tuesday night saying, “Our prayers go out to those who were wounded and are fighting for their lives and to all those devastated by this attack, especially the families of those who were murdered today.”
The statement particularly acknowledged Twersky, “one of our neighbors from Boston, a member of a distinguished Jewish family.”
In New York, Twersky’s brother-in-law Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt said he was a “gentle, saintly scholar” who “lived his life with a kind of perfected modesty and precision.”
Twersky immigrated to Israel in 1990. He became the head of the Torat Moshe Yeshiva, one of the first in the country established to cater to post-high school students from English-speaking countries.
He is survived by his wife Miriam, five children and 10 grandchildren. His funeral and burial were held Tuesday in Jerusalem.
Associated Press writer Mark Pratt contributed to this report.