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Dr. Liviu Librescu (1930-2007),  holocaust survivor, world renowned scientist and victim of the massacre at Virginia Tech.
News and Opinion

Holocaust Survivor Slaughtered On Yom Hashoah
The Jewish community mourns with Virginia Tech.

-- Daniel Loeb

The deadliest campus shooting in the history of the US occurred on Monday, April 16 at Virginia Tech. The tragic shootings at Virginia Tech happened on the day Jews all over the world observe Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and which is marked in Israel with two minutes of silence, prayer and reflection.

The United States Congress has called for a minute of silence on Friday, April 20 at noon, to remember Monday's victims, as well as the millions of other men and women around the world who have died at the hands of armed madmen and criminals.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 29 more before taking his own life.

Ironically, one of the Virginia Tech victims, aeronautics professor Liviu Librescu, was a survivor of the Holocaust. He died while barricading his classroom against the gunman, saving the lives of several of his students through his sacrifice on Yom Hashoah.

Librescu, born in 1930 in Ploiesti, Romania, survived the Holocaust in the ghetto of Focsani while his father was interned in the Transnistria labor camp. After the war, he studied Aerospace Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and Fluid Mechanics at the Academia de Stiinte din Romania.

He distinguished himself as a researcher at the Institute of Applied Mechanics, Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerospace Constructions of Academy of Science of Romania. However, then Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu did not allow him to emigrate to Israel, however, until Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin personally intervened on Prof. Librescu's behalf in 1978.

After making aliyah, Librescu served as a Professor of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering at Tel-Aviv University. In 1985, he joined the faculty at Virginia Tech where he distinguished himself as the Virginia Tech professor with the greatest number of publications.

At age 76, Professor Librescu held the door of his classroom shut so that Cho Seung-hui could not enter before his students escaped through the windows. Cho shot Liviu Librescu through the door mortally wounding this Professor considered a hero by his students.

Professor Librescu was commended posthumously by the President of Romania with the Star of Romania Order in the grade of Great Cross, "as a token of high appreciation for the entire scientific and universitarian activity, as well as for his heroic acts during the tragic events of April 16th 2007 in the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus, when professor Librescu saved his students' lives at the cost of his own".

Rabbi Yossel Kranz announced that the new Chabad House at Virginia Tech will be named for Professor Liviu Librescu. "Professor Librescu's final act of heroism will be eternally memorialized in the life-affirming activities of the new center," said Rabbi Kranz. The professor's widow Mrs. Marilena Librescu and their sons Ari and Joe shared with Rabbi Kranz their wishes that Librescu House serve as a home of healing, joy and spiritual fulfillment to Virginia Tech's Jewish students.

Photo of himself which Cho Seung-hui sent to NBC amidst his killings.
Never Again?
Lessons learned on the 8th anniversary of Columbine.

-- Diane Edbril and Daniel Loeb

Yet another American gun massacre, and though the scale is more horrific, it is not surprising. The Virginia Tech massacre is not unlike the Amish schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, late last year. Both of these, while unbearably sad, are hardly unexpected in this country. Our weak gun laws make it a certainty that the United States will continue to suffer recurrences of such preventable tragedies. There is a crying need for Americans to understand - It's about the guns!

Phil Goldsmith, President of CeaseFire PA, said "Since the Columbine shooting tragedy it has become even easier to obtain guns, as well as high capacity ammunition magazines. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have passed pre-emption laws that have undermined the ability of local governments to enact stricter gun laws. (Pennsylvania has preempted local regulation of firearms for over a decade.) Concealed carry laws have multiplied. In addition, for the last six years, the US Department of Justice has required the destruction of gun purchase background check records after just 24 hours, a measure that has prevented a comprehensive review of those who may have acquired guns despite falling into a prohibited category."

Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com

  • Most of our states do not require gun owners to be licensed and for guns to be registered.
  • Most of our states have not closed the gun show loophole, so thousands of guns are purchased without background checks.
  • Most states impose no limits on the number of firearms one individual can acquire, making it easy for illegal gun traffickers to supply the criminal element.
  • Many of our states do not update criminal history databases in a timely manner, making it easy for criminals to obtain firearms.

Imagine how much worse this tragedy could have been if Cho Seung-hui had been in possession of a military assault weapon as is his "right" now that Congress has allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to expire.

Cho Seung-hui was able to obtain firearms despite his psychological record since the burden of proof is on the government to prove that he was a danger to himself and those around him. However, when I get a driver's license, the burden of proof is on me to prove that my eyesight is adequate and that I understand the rules of the road. When I send my children to school or to summer camp, the burden of proof is on me to show that my children have been immunized and are not carrying any communicable diseases. Why not shift the burden of proof and require a recent attestation of sanity from a psychiatrist or psychologist before anyone can handle a firearm?

Will the American people stand up to the gun lobby and demand change, or will the administration simply blame the media for not concentrating their coverage on the majority of universities which do not have gun violence at any given moment?

As Phil Goldsmith observed: "Congress called for a Moment of Silence in response to this massacre. Indeed, a moment of silence is appropriate for such a devastating tragedy with such pain for families and students. But we also need loud, uncompromising noise, particularly in Pennsylvania, where too many of our citizens are being shot and killed in urban areas. The majority of Pennsylvanians favor sensible handgun laws, including Governor Ed Rendell. It is time for the majority's voices to be heard loud and clear."

For information about the Stop Gun Violence Through Peace, Action & Education - A Community-Based Interfaith's Conference on May 20 and the weekly vigils. See last month's article on Interfaith Initiative Against Guns.

Liviu Librescu Links:

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