Michelle Hirschfield and her husband Graham  (Facebook photo)

Michelle Hirschfield and her husband Graham
(Facebook photo)

The cousin of the British-born rabbi from Liverpool who was killed in a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem has spoken of her “utter disbelief” on hearing the news and revealed he had planned to visit London next week, writes Suzanne Baum.

Michelle Hirschfield, who lives in East Finchley, learnt about her cousin’s death when she turned on the radio.

“I heard there had been an attack on a synagogue in the area Avraham lives. All I could think was I hope he’s ok. There are a lot of synagogues in the Har Nov area so I just prayed it wasn’t his,” she told The Jewish News.

On contacting her sister who lives in Ra’anana, she learnt Avraham had in fact been killed and immediately made plans to travel to Israel tomorrow.

“My heart skipped a beat,” said Mrs Hirschfield, who is a member of Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue. “I couldn’t quite believe that my own flesh and blood had been murdered.”

Although Rabbi Goldberg is a second cousin of hers (their fathers were first cousins) Emunah trustee Mrs Hirschfield said he was “like my brother

“Avraham was an only child and I was one of five so when we were growing up in Liverpool we treated him as though he were our sibling. He was our surrogate brother.”

Having visited her cousin’s home regularly, Mrs Hirschfield said she last saw Avraham-who worked as a chemical engineer up until his retirement when he started publishing Jewish books- a couple of months ago on a trip to Israel.

“He was a very special man and even though he was deeply religious he never pushed his views onto other people.

“His main ambition was to set up schools for Cheradi children to ensure they got a good enough education to go on and get a job so as not to live off the state.”

As for her cousin’s wife, Mrs Hirschfield said she would be supported by the community who were very tight-knitted.

“Right now she is obviously in shock but of course is very, very angry. She cannot accept what has happened.

“What can one say? In a moment a life is shattered. My cousin was due to fly to London next week and we had planned on having lunch together. The fact I will never see him again is too tragic for words.”