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Jewish Post

A Professor A Hero

By Rabbi Shea Hecht

Liviu LibrescuI think the biggest surprise of all is that the crime shocked us. After 9/11, when the very essence of who we are as Americans was attacked, crimes of  smaller magnitude fail to shake us.

But here, once again a criminal dug into the bowels of America, onto a college campus one of the American campuses that house the over-two million students, and killed innocent and unprotected students; his classmates, some he knew and some were strangers. And the place, the time and the enormity of the crime shook each person to the core. Every American, whether they went to college or not, can identify with the defenseless students being gunned down in the very place that they feel is a safe haven in this harsh world - a school classroom.

In one of life's greatest ironies, it's ugly, heartless tragedies that give birth to the greatest heroes. And the tragedy at Virginia Tech was no different than any other. From the revolting, murderous acts that took place on April 16, 2007, Professor Liviu Librescu, cemented his role as a hero. Librescu stood in the front of the classroom door allowing students to escape thereby giving his life while saving theirs.

And, when their paths crossed, when the showdown of the villain and the hero culminated, the difference between the two people was never more noticeable.

Both were men. Both were immigrants. Both were at Virginia Tech. Both died on April 16, 2007. Both made headlines. And that is where the comparison ended.

Professor Liviu Librescu, taught in the institute.

Seung-Hui Cho, learned there.

The Professor distinguished himself throughout his life as someone with courage.

The student did not.

The Professor fought to live through the horrors of the Holocaust. He believed in life and living.

The student did not.

Professor Librescu's career stalled in the 1970s because he refused to swear allegiance to the Communist Party of Romania and was forced out of academia there for his sympathies towards Israel. The Professor took a stand for humanity.

The student did not.

Librescu requested permission from the Romanian government to emigrate to Israel and  was fired from his job. The Professor took a stand for decency.

The student did not.

Through his research and work throughout his life, the Professor made a positive and long lasting difference to the lives of so many.
And the student made hate videos and so he did not.

The Professor loved people, was concerned about people and always helped people.

The student was a loner and so did not.

In their last moments together, the Professor made his family and community proud.

The student brought shame and so he did not.

On April 16, the Professor stood for his belief in the sanctity of life and gave his own life to save the lives of others.

And the student did not.

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