Slain Professor Librescu's Widow, Son, Students Honored At NCFJE Dinner

Slain Professor Librescu's Widow, Son, Students Honored At NCFJE Dinner

Rabbi Shea Hecht, students of Professor Librescu, Mrs. Librescu and a Virginia Tech faculty member. photo: M. Kozlovsky.

by Miriam Davids - New York City

November 17, 2008

( In his opening remarks at Sunday night’s annual dinner of the NCFJE (National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education), Rabbi Sholom B. Hecht, Chairman of the Excecutive Committee told a story of a blind girl, embittered by her disability, angry at the world and at the people around her. Only her boyfriend remained a steadfast presence in her life, always at her side with great compassion.

He alone seemed not to mind her blindness, and proposed to marry her. The girl refused. If she could see, she promised, she would marry him. But without her eyesight, she vowed never to marry.

One day the girl’s doctor told her of a new medical procedure that, with the gift of donor eyes, would give her the ability to see.

The girl was ecstatic. She underwent the procedure and awoke to find a beautiful world of dazzling colors and sights.

“Now that you can see,” said her boyfriend, “let us get married.”

The girl looked closely at her boyfriend. His eyelids, she noticed, hung over deep sockets. He was blind.

To his great heartbreak, she refused to marry him.

The boy moved away. Soon after, she received a letter from him wishing her well in her new lease on life.

“Please take care of your eyes,” he concluded, “as they were mine before they became yours.”

Sitting off to the side on the podium, as Rabbi Hecht told this story, was Mrs. Marilena Librescu, wife of the slain professor, who took a gunman’s bullets to his chest at Virginia Tech in April 2007, allowing his students—four of them who were present Sunday night—to escape to safety. Also joining her from Israel was her son, Ari Librescu.

The dinner was held at the Holocaust Museum in Battery Park City (The Museum of Jewish Heritage), a fitting venue for honoring Mrs. Librescue and her husband, themselves both holocaust survivors.

The NCFJE is a Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish educational and outreach organization with unobtrusive offices on Eastern Parkway, half a block from Lubavitch Headquarters.

Now in its 68th year, the organization itself has a remarkable history of humanitarian achievements. Notable among them are its toy distribution to hospitalized children, its food pantry, its substance abuse and domestic counseling services. The organization has also been highly effective in Jewish education, leading with its famous "Relase Time Hour" where Jewish public school children natiowide are released once a week for a lively hour of Jewish educational activities.

The dinner was well attended by friends and supporters and a distinguished line-up of congressmen and congresswomen, judges, and other political state and municipal leaders who turned out to honor the NCFJE as a pillar of social service. The organization was lauded for its work bridging social divides and for exemplifying tolerance and human compassion, dating back to its founding by the late Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht.

A documentary video of Mr. Librescu’s life and final act of heroism, was produced by the National Committee and shown at the dinner. The video tells the riveting story of the fateful day at Virginia Tech, along with a biography of the Professor who survived the Holocaust and subsequent communist persecution in Romania. It has been used as an effective tool in teaching tolerance in New York public schools, where to date, says Chairman of Trustees, Rabbi Shea Hecht, more than 68,000 public school students have seen it, and countless more have viewed it on youtube.

Click here to view the video.

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