TORONTO - The July 31 bombing at Hebrew University that killed nine people and injured 85 others represents a new level of terror because Jews and Arabs have studied there together in harmony, Israeli consul Zehavit Ben Hillel said at a shloshim service for the victims last week. For Ben Hillel, the incident had a personal dimension, she said. In addition to being a Hebrew U graduate, before her arrival in Toronto she held the same diplomatic position in Lima, Peru, to which one of the victims, David Diego Ladowski, 29, had recently been appointed.
The service, held at Beth David B'nai Israel Beth Am Congregation, was organized by the Alumni of the Rothberg International School and Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU). Participants included more than half a dozen alumni of the university and its Rothberg International School, where half a dozen Canadians are currently studying.
Rabbi Philip Scheim, spiritual leader of Beth David, is also a Rothberg alumnus, as is Cantor Eric Moses of Beth Sholom Congregation, who officiated along with Beth David's Cantor Marshall Loomer. "All of us here share a link with, and a love for, the State of Israel that magnifies the grief felt for the almost 700 innocents murdered in Israel these past two years," said Rabbi Scheim.
Eli Savage, a 1997 alumnus who was a friend of one of those killed - San Diego native Marla Bennett, 24 - said all the victims "led lives of tremendous courage and spirit, and we have a responsibility to preserve their memory and carry on what they began." Bennett, who was working on a master's degree in Jewish education, organized food packages for Palestinian families during the Jenin crisis, said Ali Feldman, who studied with Bennett and fellow bombing victim Benjamin Blutstein, 25, last year at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies.
Feldman happened to run into Blutstein, her roommate's boyfriend, the night before he was killed. "Before we parted, he told me how excited he was to see his parents. He had a ticket for the next night. Unfortunately he flew home in a casket." Shari Goldberg lights a memorial candle for Hebrew U victims of terror.
[Stephen Epstein photo] She recalled Blutstein as a serious Torah student by day and a charismatic DJ by night. "He was full of energy and full of life. Rothberg alumna Shari Golberg lit a memorial candle to honour Blutstein, Bennett, Ladowski and the six other victims: Revital Barashi, Dina Carter, Janis Ruth Coulter, David Gritz, Levina Shapira and Dafna Spruch. Harley Mintz, president of CFHU's Toronto chapter, said the bombing brought the realization that there is "no safe place from terror."
Moshe Arad, the university's vice-president for development, said in a taped message that messages of support have been a source of great strength and encouragement. "We are proud of being an island of sanity and tranquility," he said. "We are determined to continue to pursue our mission and to serve as a bridge of co-existence."
Prof. Janice Stein, director of the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies, said Hebrew U has always stood for everything that's the opposite of terror. "From the early days, they took seriously their responsibility to use reason and carefully disciplined thought to find a way though the intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."
She reminisced about her three-decade affiliation with Hebrew University and lamented in particular the loss of the director of the department of student affairs and the serious injuries to most of its staff members.
The department will have to be rebuilt from scratch before the new academic year starts in October, Stein said. Tracy Wilder, a 1988 alumna and past chair of CFHU New Leadership, called on those present to translate their feelings into action and support Israel in ways such as calling or e-mailing friends and family in Israel, buying Israeli products and giving
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