Posted to Chabad News on

Victim of Virginia Tech Shooting To Be Flown to Israel Today
Dr. Librescu at his grandson’s circumcison (Photo: Yaron Brener,

Roanoke, VA — Thus far, only one of the victims of the shooting at Virginia Tech, was confirmed Jewish. Chabad representatives were on call today, ensuring that he receive a traditional Jewish burial.

Beginning with Tuesday’s convocation at Virginia Tech, faculty, family and others connected to those killed in Monday’s massacre at the university, will start a process of grieving. Memorial services, wakes and funerals—some that may well run into next week—will mark the days and weeks to come. And this only after the medical examiner’s office completes its work, which will take days.

But the practices are very different in Judaism, which has stringent laws regarding the handling of a body from the moment of death. The deceased is not to be left unguarded, autopsies are to be avoided or minimally invasive, and the body must be laid to rest quickly. It’s a ritual that was denied to Holocaust victims, who only earlier this week were remembered at Holocaust memorials around the world.

So when Rabbi Yossel Kranz, Chabad representative to the Virginias was notified that there was a Jewish individual among the dead, he drove out to the coroner’s office in Roanoke to make arrangements so that none of the Jewish standards are compromised in the case of 76 year-old Virginia Tech Professor Liviu Librescu. ,

Himself a Holocaust survivor from Romania, and now recognized for his heroism during the shooting, Librescu barricaded his classroom door with his own body to allow students to escape from the windows until he himself was killed.

“At a time like this, it’s very difficult for the family to stay on top of the many details that are involved,” explained Rabbi Kranz. Indeed, according to Rabbi Kranz, Ari Librescu, the professor’s son living in Israel, was getting ready to get on a plane for Virginia when Kranz caught him in the nick of time and told him to stay put.

“Ari was told by the medical examiner’s office that his father’s body would not be released before Friday,” says Rabbi Kranz, and only then, would plans to fly the body to Israel be made.

“We couldn’t let the burial be delayed for so long,” explains Rabbi Kranz, who worked from the very beginning in close coordination with Rabbi Isaac Lieder from Zaka. In keeping with the wishes of Mrs. Marlena Librescu and her sons, to honor the professor with a proper Jewish burial, Kranz worked feverishly throughout the day cutting through many delaying factors and finally calling on Congressman Eric Cantor’s office to expedite matters, to gain release of the body by Tuesday afternoon.

Working through Rabbi Lieder and Zaka, arrangements were made so that the body would be flown to Israel by Wednesday, Kranz said, visibly distraught by the carnage he saw while keeping vigil over the deceased.

Joining Rabbi Kranz was Rabbi Shlomo Mayer of Chabad of UVA, Charlottesville, who is also Romanian-born. Tuesday evening, the Rabbis visited with Mrs. Librescu at a service at the JCC in Blacksburg.

Attending to the details and logistics of the day made it impossible for the rabbis to participate at the convocation at Virginia Tech. But, says Rabbi Kranz , he and Rabbi Mayer will be at the university reaching out to students in their grief all day Wednesday.


  • 2. wrote:

    Kavod Acharon For Professor Librescu

    (More exclusive pictures of this Kiddush Hashem by clicking HERE)

    Shortly after the devastating news broke of the massacre at Virginia Tech, the family of Professor Liviu Librescu was notified of his death. As reported HERE on YW, the 75-year-old Holocaust survivor sacrificed his life to save his students.

    The family immediately contacted the ZAKA Organization in Eretz Yisroel to help expedite the release of the niftar, who in turn advised the family to contact Rabbi Isaac Lieder in Monsey, NY.

    Rabbi Lieder quickly contacted the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke, Virginia, and explained that the professor was Jewish and Jewish law prohibits performing an autopsy on a deceased person. They guaranteed Rabbi Lieder that even though they were dealing with the largest investigation of a shooting on US soil, there would in fact be no autopsy, just a minimally invasive procedure to remove the bullets, followed by a few x-rays.

    Rabbi Lieder contacted Rabbi Yossi Kranz, who is the Chabad shliach in Virginia to go to the medical examiner’s office and act as a shomer for the niftar, while explaining to them that an autopsy is forbidden according to Jewish law.

    Rabbi Lieder was scheduled to fly by private jet with Mr. Eli Rowe of Queens Hatzolah to pick up the niftar. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, they were unable to fly. Rabbi Lieder drove in a private vehicle to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke to take the niftar to New York City.

    Rabbi Lieder, who spoke with Yeshivaworld, told of the amazing cooperation of state police in states along the way, which provided him with police escorts the entire way. He specifically mentioned the cooperation of the governor of Virginia’s office, various Virginia congressmen, and other public officials.

    The niftar will be brought to Shomrei Hachomos Chapels in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday, where a taharah will be preformed by the Chesed Shel Emes Organization under the leadership of the esteemed askan, Rabbi Mendy Rosenberg.

    A levaya is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Shomrei Hachomos, after which the niftar will be flown to Eretz Yisroel for another levaya and kevurah.

    This information was obtained by, and written exclusively for Yeshivaworld and the Yated by a YW reporter.

  • 3. yyl wrote:

    [Note: This information was obtained by, and written exclusively for Yeshivaworld and the Yated by a YW reporter. No part of this article may be reprinted without the written permission of YW Editor.]

  • 5. aliza wrote:

    When Rabbi Danny Cohen, the Rebbe’s Shliach in Hevron, heard the news about Professor Librescu, he realized right away that this was the father of a good friend of his. The young Librescu was an army buddy of Danny’s and they had kept in touch for more than a decade since finishing their regular service. Danny right away called his good friend upon hearing the news. As they spoke, Danny was upset to learn about the arrangements for the Professor which included an autopsy and flying back to Eretz Yisroel on Shabbos. Danny wanted to help. First he called Zaka and was able to learn important information. Next he put out a notice on Shluchim Achdus asking for appropriate contacts in Virginia. It was still nigh-time in America, so it took a few hours before he got his first response. Danny was put in touch with both Shlomo Mayer, and as the article above states, Rabbi Kranz. The Rabbis were able to straighten things out according to Halacha. The Tahara was to be done in NY and the funeral will take place IYH in Eretz Yisroel on Erev Shabbos. Throughout the process the Danny’s friend was in awe of Chabad.

    But the Rebbe added an extra touch of love. Leave it to the Rebbe. The closest Shliach to the Virginia tragedy was, as i mentioned above, a Rabbi Shlomo Mayer. Rabbi Mayer is a Baal Tshuva from Romania. Not too many Shluchim, if any others at all, speak Romanian as a native. The wife of Professor Librescu was relieved to encounter, right on the spot, right there in Virginia, someone who was so comforting to speak to, someone who spoke to her in her native language.

  • 6. amazed wrote:

    wow, just goes to show the dichotomy between a heroic jew and a murderous madman. One is killing people with complete reckless abandon and then a little old jew, a holocaust survivor, uses his own body as a shield to protect his students. He is a hero and will go directly to gan eden. His students owe their lives to him. Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps one of the students will one day be in a position of power and will always remember that a jew saved his life.


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