KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A native of Kansas City, Missouri, whose parents have played a prominent role in the area's Jewish community, was among those killed in an attack at a crowded Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday.
Rabbi Kalman Levine, 55, born Cary William Levine, died along with two other U.S. citizens and a Briton when Palestinian attackers armed with meat cleavers and a gun burst into a synagogue during prayers. Police said the four victims held dual Israeli citizenship. A police officer also died of his wounds hours after the attack.
Levine's brother-in-law, Jonathan Bein of Boulder, Colorado, said Levine studied the Talmud and Torah at the University of Southern California before leaving for Israel in his 20s.
"He was very committed to being in the land of Israel," Bein told The Associated Press. "There are people, once they get there, their ethic is to never leave the land of Israel. He was one of those people."
Levine's son, Yerachmiel Levine, recalled his father's dedication to his religious studies. "He would study all day long and would return home at night only to learn more until he would fall asleep in his chair," the son said.
Levine was among the first class of graduates at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park, Kansas. The school said his parents, Bernard and Joan Levine, are committed supporters of Kansas City's Jewish and art communities.
A man who answered the door Tuesday at the Kansas City address listed for his parents said the family didn't want to talk. Another woman who arrived at the home also declined to comment.
"Those of us who knew Rabbi Levine, he was such a gentle, kind soul who was working in the area of pluralism and bringing people together," said Alan Edelman, associate executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. "He loved and respected every human being and believed we are all created in the image of God. For his life to end like this is more than ironic."
Rabbi Meshulum Twersky, who teaches third- and fourth-grade Jewish studies at Hyman Brand, is a nephew of another victim, Rabbi Moshe Twersky.
Howard Haas, head of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, and Rabbi Daniel Rockoff, president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City, expressed their condolences to the families of Levine and Twersky and said their deaths are a loss to the Jewish community.
"Both of these men personified Jewish ideals and values and were deeply committed to their families," Rockoff said at a news conference.
Haas said Meshulum Twersky was in mourning with his family.