A year after nine people were killed in a bombing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, tears of sadness filled a memorial service Thursday in the Chicago Loop Synagogue, and mourners were reminded to never forget what happened.
Gabi Ladowski never will. Ladowski, 40, of Wheeling, lost his brother, David, on July 31, 2002, when a bomb exploded in a terrorist attack at the school cafeteria. Four students and five faculty members were killed, and more than 80 people were injured.
Ladowski, who is originally from Argentina, said his brother was a graduate student studying public policy at the university and was close to getting his diploma and moving to Lima, Peru, to start a new job.
"It is important to remember all these people who were simple, innocent people just like us, who died as a result of a horrible act," Ladowski said before the service, at which he was one of the speakers.
The bombing was one of several attacks that took place over the course of a week last year and increased tension between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Islamic terrorist group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks and described them as acts of revenge for Israeli attacks on its leadership.
Ladowski said he first heard about the bombing when he returned from a vacation and listened to several messages on his answering machine.
"A lot of people tried to get in touch with us, but nobody told us what had happened," Ladowski said. "I checked on the Internet and found out there was a bomb at Hebrew University, and I knew there was a possibility he could have been there."
Thursday's service, which was sponsored by American Friends of Hebrew University, included songs and remarks by family members and friends of the victims.
Hanoch Gutfreund, president of the university from 1992 to 1997, said he worked closely with two of the victims. He said the university was conceived as a way to build a bridge between Jews and Arabs.
"Hebrew University was meant to serve the peoples of Palestine and of the region to be a place in which political and ethnic struggles would be debated in a peaceful and tolerant surrounding," he said.
Although Gutfreund said the attack has changed the university and increased security around the 24,000-student campus, he said he believes there will be peace someday.
"There is a ray of hope now, and we hope the process taking place leads to an end where we can see peace in the area," Gutfreund said.
Chicago Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) said prayer would lead the way to peace. "We of the Jewish faith are believers in life, and the fact that these lives were extinguished in such a ... manner causes us to come here today and pray and memorialize them," Natarus said.
|Gabi Ladowski (left) and Todd Lundy of American Friends of Hebrew University light candles for the 9 bombing victims
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