Rabbi Elli Horovitz and Dinah Horovitz, Z"l. (Israel: Two E-Mail Communications)

Article excerpt

Like most people these days, I keep close tabs on the news. On Friday morning, March 7, 2003, in Los Angeles, when I read on the Internet that a couple was murdered by Arab terrorists in Kiryat Arba, my ears perked up because my cousins live there. But so do about 7,500 other persons. We were out all Saturday afternoon and came home for a short time before setting out for an evening concert. But before leaving, I had to check the news once again. There it stared me in the face. The murdered couple was identified. I screamed for my husband. Look, it's my (Dad's) cousin Leah's son, Elli (Elnatan) and his wife Debbie (Dinah). They murdered my cousins.

Sadly, these were not the first of my cousins to be murdered because they were Jewish. About three years ago, April 28, 2000, my cousin Nicky (Anita) Horvitz Gordon (my peer, although my mother's first cousin) was brutally murdered in her Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home by the lawyer son of the dentists who lived next door. He then torched her house and went on an ethnically motivated killing rampage wherein he vandalized two synagogues and murdered four other persons. Nicky's murderer maintained a hate-spewing website, citing Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler as his heroes. He had recently returned from one of several trips to Europe, absorbing that continent's sub-culture of hate at a time when many of us were still unaware of the nascent antisemitism sweeping Europe. One wonders: was Nicky the canary in the coal mine? The Forward editorialized, on May 18, 2001, at the time Nicky's murderer was sentenced to death, that "the most serious episode of American antisemitism in nearly a decade was brought quietly to a conclusion." The Forward also stated that the incident received little media attention, in spite of the fact that some community leaders saw the crimes as triggered by antisemitism. The broader community, they noted, had failed to see the pattern in this and other hate-motivated attacks, viewing them in isolation. We should, continued the Forward editorial, "stop tolerating intolerance." Nicky, like Elli and Dinah, could be described as an "angel"--beloved by all who knew her. A genuine eishet chayil, woman of valor, brilliant, and artistically talented, Nicky selflessly devoted her time to her family and her community.

I was also reminded that the Horovitzes were not the first people in our family to have been murdered in Hebron. In 1929, my great aunt Chantshe's husband was murdered in the Hebron riots of that era in which the Arabs decimated the Jewish community.

We are an international family. Like many other Jewish families, we are everywhere--Israel, the United States, Europe, Australia, South America. We have such a cohesive bond that, in spite of the fact that we represent a variety of political beliefs and religious backgrounds within Judaism, there is a commonality that binds the family together. That glue is our strong belief in the destiny of the Jewish people and an irrevocable attachment to the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). So our family is like a microcosm of the Jewish people.

Rabbi Elli Horovitz (Ray Elli to all his students) was a man of peace, a man of great erudition in Jewish learning, but also a person with a ready smile and a beauty of spirit who loved nature and music. By all accounts, Elli was a very special light, a tolerant person who could relate to all of the Jewish groups ranging from ultra religious, to Zionist religious, and to leftists. For example, Dor Shalem--a group including leftist Meretz political party people--invited him regularly to come down to Tel Aviv to lecture because they felt he understood them very clearly. Dor Shalem tries to establish bonds between the religious and secular in Israel. In turn, in an unusual move for a non-religious group, they rented a bus and came to Kiryat Arba for Succot to be with Rav Elli.

Several years ago, when many religious Israelis decided that there was a closer connection needed between Israeli and American observant Jews, it was Rav Elli who was selected to fly to New York City's Upper West Side to lecture at the Lincoln Square Synagogue over a period of a year, for three days each month, on a project to spread the teachings of Rav Kook in the United States. …