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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Israeli professor, Holocaust survivor, a victim and a hero at Virginia Tech

From YNet:
WASHINGTON – Prof Liviu Librescu, a senior researcher and lecturer at Virginia Tech, is among the 32 people who were killed during a shooting rampage at the university Monday.

One of Prof Librescu's students, Alec Calhoun, who was with him at the classroom when the shooting started, told AP that at about 9:05 am, he and classmates heard "a thunderous sound from the classroom next door, what sounded like an enormous hammer."

When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, they started flipping over desks for hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of the room.

Calhoun said that just before he climbed out the window, he turned to look at the professor (Librescu), who had stayed behind to block the door.

Prof Librescu and his wife are both Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel from Romania in 1978.

Librescu was an accomplished scientist in Romania, and the Communist regime had tried to prevent him from making aliyah to Israel. He was allowed to leave the country only after the Israeli prime minister at the time Menachem Begin appealed the matter to President Nicolae Ceausescu.

Several years later, Librescu left for a sabbatical in the United States and has remained there since. His first son, Arieh, lives in Israel, while his other son, Joe, resides in the US.

Librescu's colleagues described his as a "true gentleman."