Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No one has greater love than this . . . .

Words -- my words, or your words, or any words but those of ancient faith -- are utterly useless when faced with the image of an elderly Israeli professor, a Holocaust survivor, throwing himself at a gunman pushing at the classroom door and yelling for his Virginia Tech students to jump to safety from a ledge.

Liviu Librescu was shot to death Monday. On Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Jerusalem Post:

As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 76-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded.

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Librescu was respected in his field, his son said.

"His work was his life, in a sense," said Joe. "That was a good place for him to practice his research."

The couple immigrated to Israel from Romania in 1978. They then moved to Virginia in 1986 for his sabbatical and had stayed since then, Joe told Army Radio.

"When he heard the gunfire, he blocked the entrance and got shot through the door," his daughter-in-law Ayala Schmulevich said.

"He realized he had to save the students," she said. "That was the kind of man he was."

The hero educator was beginning a class on solid mechanics when all hell broke loose on the second floor of Norris Hall.

First came the terrifying gunshots from a classroom next door.

"It wasn't like an automatic weapon, but it was a steady 'pow,' 'pow,' 'pow,' 'pow,'" student Richard Mallalieu, 23, told The Washington Post. "We didn't know what to do at first."

The students in the class dropped to the floor and started overturning desks to hide behind as about a dozen shots rang out, he said.

Then the gunfire started coming closer. Librescu, 77, fearlessly braced himself against the door, holding it shut against the gunman in the hall, while students darted to the windows of the second-floor classroom to escape the slaughter, survivors said.

Mallalieu and most of his classmates hung out of the windows and dropped about 10 feet to bushes and grass below - but Librescu stayed behind to hold off the crazed gunman.

Alec Calhoun, 20, said the last thing he saw before he jumped from the window was Librescu, blocking the door against the madman in the hallway.

* * *

Glorified and sanctified be G-d's great name throughout
the world which he has created according to his will.
May he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and during
your days, and within the life of the entire house
of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.


May his great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled
and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One,
blessed be he, beyond all the blessings and hymns,
praises and consolations that are ever spoken
in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant PEACE from heaven,
and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates PEACE in his celestial heights,
may he create PEACE for us and for all Israel;
and say, Amen.

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