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A World Reaches Out to Comfort Professor’s Family

Ra’anana, Israel — As the Librescu family completed its final days of sitting shiva for their slain husband and father, a representative of the Chabad on Campus National Foundation presented them with a book of more than 1,450 condolences. The well-wishes – some from as far away as India and written in a smattering of languages, including Professor Liviu Librescu’s native Romanian – were submitted to a page on the Chabad on Campus Web site,, that went online less than a day after last week’s April 16 shooting rampage on the Blacksburg, Va., campus of Virginia Tech that left 32 students and faculty dead.

Librescu, who sacrificed his life by blocking the door to his classroom while his students escaped the shooter’s bullets, was the only Jewish victim. In the hours following the attack, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries from Richmond, Va. and the Charlottesville, Va. campus of the University of Virginia, traveled to Blacksburg to comfort the community and ensure that Librescu’s body was treated in accordance with Jewish law by authorities. After being flown to Israel, the Holocaust survivor was buried on April 20 in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ra’anana.

Speaking in Hebrew at the Ra’anana home of Aryeh Librescu, one of the professor’s two sons, Joshua Runyan told Librescu’s widow, Marlena Librescu, and her sons that an entire world mourned with them.

Handing copies of the book to Aryeh and Joseph Librescu, Runyan – who together with his wife, Tamar Runyan, directs the Chabad on Campus news division – said that the contributors “came from across the world. Most of them did not know Professor Librescu, but they were touched by the way in which he lived, and the way in which died.”

“We can ask ourselves, ‘How is it possible for his life to continue?’ ” continued Runyan. “By living our lives in the way he lived his life: By caring more about those around us than ourselves.”

People were already doing that, he went on, by pledging to commit acts of kindness in a Chabad on Campus drive that began last Friday. And many were already performing those good deeds in Librescu’s memory, as evidenced by the thousands of Jewish women and men who lit Shabbat candles, some for the first time, at Chabad memorial events on campuses across the United States.

“It is known that a little bit of light dispels much darkness,” stated Runyan. “Through these actions, we are able to see through the darkness and catch a glimpse of the redemption.”

After receiving her copy of the book from Tamar Runyan, Marlena Librescu thanked Chabad for its help following the tragedy and the new Chabad House to be dedicated at Virginia Tech in her husband’s memory. As she skimmed through the comments recorded in the book, she looked up and said, “May only good come from our misfortunes.”

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