EXCLUSIVE: A British teacher who was close friends with all four of the victims killed in Tuesday’s terror attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem has described his “unimaginable pain” at returning to the place where the atrocities happened, writes Suzanne Baum.
Rabbi Jonathan Taub, the brother of Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, said the atmosphere at the evening prayers service on Tuesday was “indescribable.
“You cannot begin to imagine the shock we all felt davening in the same synagogue where four of our members had been killed that same day,” said London-born Rabbi Taub, a former member of Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue who made Aliyah 30 years ago.
“It has not hit home yet, I am still struggling for words but seeing the four Yahrzeit candles burning inside the shul made me break down and cry.”
Speaking to the Jewish News straight after leaving a prayer service at the home of British-born victim Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg , Rabbi Taub said “the families have been torn apart. Rabbi Goldberg’s wife Beila is destroyed.”
Having prayed at the Har Nov synagogue for 25 years, Rabbi Taub had become very close friends with the four men who died. Although he regularly attended the early minyan, he missed Tuesday’s service as he was teaching.
“I see these men almost every day. When I first heard about the attack I couldn’t believe it. All four of them are the most wonderful people you could meet.”
Describing Rabbi Goldberg, whom he socialised with often, as “of exceptional statue” he added “he was a man of love and humour.”
He said that another of the victims, American Rabbi Aryeh Kapinsky, was a man “who couldn’t do enough to help.
“All he ever wanted to do was look out for people, even as a guest at a Kiddush he would insist on serving everyone. I have been told that he tried to stop the terrorists by throwing a table at them.”
The other two victims, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Mosheh Twersky – who held dual US-Israeli citizenship-were very “holy men who despite being religious didn’t implore their beliefs on anyone.”
According to Rabbi Taub, they were “humble men who were both extremely modest.”
Also paying tribute to the victims is Rabbi David Kass, who said “the deaths of these four men are a tremendous loss.
“For 20 years I have spent six days a week studying Talmud with Rabbi Goldberg, the daily learning was the focal point of his day.”
Originally from Finchley, Rabbi Kass became friends with Rabbi Goldberg when they were both yeshiva students in Gateshead in the early 1970’s. He last saw him on Monday afternoon.
“I am still in shock; it is completely unbelievable that such a wonderful person has been taken away in such brutal circumstances. I will always remember him as someone who had a smile on his face.”