April 16, 2008, - 4:16 pm

Dr. Liviu Librescu: American/Israeli/Jewish Hero Who Saved VTech Students Remembered One Year Later

By Debbie Schlussel
A year ago, today, a crazed killer terrorized students and faculty at Virginia Tech. While several were murdered, one of the murdered gave his life to save many others. That man was the brave American/Israeli Jew, Dr. Liviu Librescu, Blessed Be His Memory. This brilliant scientist, Holocaust survivor, and survivor of Communist tyranny, died so that others–22 others!–would live.
I remember how proud my late father–knowing he was dying of cancer–was of Dr. Librescu’s heroic final act. The stereotype is that Jews are weak people, but Dr. Librescu betrayed that image. Alas, my father sarcastically said he was waiting for Steven Spielberg to do a movie defaming Dr. Librescu and glorifying Cho Seung Hui, as he did the same with innocent Israeli athletes and Palestinian terrorists in “Munich,” the propaganda fiction movie parading as history. As my dad noted, the scene was the same: Dr. Librescu was like the brave Israeli Olympic team coach in trying to hold the door shut from the terrorist killers, trying to save others.
Watch this great video on Dr. Librescu, a man of uncommon courage and bravery, and honor his memory:

The video was produced by the great Rabbi Shea Hecht, Chairman of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, who also sent this article to me and asked me to post it. I happily oblige:

Liviu Librescu, Z”L

Courage Under Fire
Have you ever wondered how you would react to an emergency situation? A real emergency? All of us have been tested. But most people haven’t been tested with the ultimate test of all: What if you could save the lives of others by giving up your own?
On April 16, 2007, Liviu Librescu was given the ultimate test.
He was able to save his own life but some of his students would die or he could give his life, but many young students – with their whole life ahead of them – would be spared the murderous weapon of a fellow classmate.
Librescu passed the test and gave up his life. He took four bullets on that day, while he held the door to his classroom closed so his students could escape.
At least 22 young lives were spared by Professor Librescu’s courageous actions.
What can we learn from the professor’s courage under fire? What real life lesson can we take from him since most of us are not called upon to give our lives for others?
There is a lot to learn.
The fact that Liviu Librescu, of all people, was the one to give his life so others may live is a lesson in and of itself.
Professor Librescu grew up in Romania and as a young boy suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis, may their names be blotted out. When WWII was over the Communists ruled in Romania. The professor then suffered once again for being a Jew.
When Librescu finally reached Israel he had every reason to live only for himself. He spent so many of his young and formative years under persecution that it was essentially his time to enjoy.
But he taught at Tel Aviv University and Technion in Haifa giving over his vast knowledge, made a name for himself as a special professor and was invited to Virginia Tech as a visiting professor. Librescu so impressed the University that he was invited to stay.
Professor Liviu Librescu, a man who understood murder, who understood persecution, showed courage under fire. He knew that he must save his students – the ones with their futures ahead of them.
At this point he could have said, “Madmen took enough of my life. I should run and save myself.”
But he was a mentsch. He told his students to run and save themselves.
Even at the bitter end he was worried about others.
His legacy to us is that regardless of our own personal circumstances, we should be aware of those who need more and be ready to give of ourselves.


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4 Responses

How bittersweet it must be for his wife. What a lovely tribute to a man who is more brave than most cops these days! Barach Hashem!

NC on April 16, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Baruch Hashem is right. We need those like him. RIP

mindy1 on April 16, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Liviu Librescu – a great man! How fortunate my country and my state (Virginia) was to have had the privilege of hosting this hero for a time. It is the loving and brave people like Prof. Librescu who set the positive example for others to follow upward. As a Christian I find it moving that this loving Jew knowingly sacrificed his life in his adopted majority-Christian homeland. As the son of a German immigrant, I hope that our nation may somehow attract the great ones like Prof. Librescu to live among us so as to uplift our society with their integrity and commitment to that which is good and just.
My sincere condolences to Prof. Librescu’s family and friends over your loss of this hero who walked among us for a season.
Ronald Etters, Virginia
April 17, 2008

Ronald Etters on April 17, 2008 at 6:35 pm

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