Israeli who saved Virginia students buried as hero

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
April 22, 2007 01:35
3 minute read.

 
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"I'm proud of you. I walk today with head held high," slain Virginia Tech Professor Liviu Librescu's son Joe said Friday at the funeral of his father, who sacrificed himself to save his students during the brutal massacre at the US school Monday. Speaking at the ceremony in Ra'anana's Kfar Nahman cemetery, attended by some 200 friends, family members, foreign diplomats and others who came to pay their respects, Joe Librescu lamented the questions he had never asked his father. "They're asking me today about your past, and I don't know what to tell them," he said. "Sometimes I didn't hear you, but my ears are now wide open to your legacy," he added. "I'm doing my best, reaching to the moon - I know I can reach it because of you." Librescu's wife, Marlena, mourned the loss of "not just a husband, but my best friend." "I was blessed to be with him each day for 42 years - to learn from his wisdom, to receive his advice - and I thank you for giving me our two children. I'm now blessed to be with them," she said. "I ask forgiveness from you for every time I upset you. I hope you will protect your family from where you reside now," she said, adding, "I have only the good left from you.... May it go easy for you, my sweetheart." The professor's other son, Arie, said his father had "always said to be strong." "Father, I believe that at this moment you're looking down on us from above and saying: 'What is all this crowding around? I only did what I had to do.' From our childhood, you taught us to care for people, to work hard, to succeed, but you never taught us to be heroes. It is more theoretical a lesson than aerodynamics. A hero must have the right combination of certain attributes, and you had them." Arie added that his father "used every spare minute to do what he loved." Speaking of his father's teaching, he said that "the courses in aerodynamics have ended. On the 16th of the month, you started a new career, teaching a new subject - heroism - [which] millions of students are learning." He thanked family, friends and neighbors in Israel and around the world for all they had done for the family - and particularly for his mother - in their time of loss. He added special thanks for "a righteous man, an organization, Chabad, someone who drove five hours to mother [the day of the shooting] and made sure the body would come to Israel as soon as possible." Rabbi Danny Cohen, a Chabad representative in Hebron and a close friend of Arie's, said at the funeral that "[Librescu's] last act lit a fire of unity throughout the world. This evening, tens of thousands of Jewish women will light Shabbat candles at the special request of [Marlena]." According to Librescu's wife, lighting Shabbat candles was his favorite mitzva. Arie said his mother would now move to back Israel once she has completed the arrangements in the US. At the funeral, Gheorghe Angelescu, adviser to the president of Romania, presented Marlena Librescu with the Grand Cross of Romania - the country's highest civilian honor - which was previously granted to the prime ministers of France and Italy. Librescu was given the award for his scientific achievements and the heroism surrounding his death. According to Angelescu, Librescu "was a very important scientist - not just for Israel or Romania, but for the world." Some funeral goers were critical of the absence of any government representative at the funeral. Despite repeated attempts, no government response could be obtained by press time.•

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