About two dozen people gathered yesterday afternoon to dedicate a Sefer Torah that was donated to Virginia Tech in honor of the late professor Liviu Librescu. Librescu was one of 33 people, including gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who were killed during the April 16, 2007, shootings on campus. The 76-year-old professor barricaded the door to his Norris Hall classroom with his body, allowing his students to jump out of windows to escape. Cho shot Librescu through the door, killing the Holocaust survivor on Holocaust Remembrance Day.After hearing of Librescu’s sacrifice, the Sandra Brand Torah Project donated the religious document “to serve as a living memory,” Rabbi Zvi Zwiebel said.
Rabbi Eli Barber traveled from Brooklyn, N.Y., for the event.
The organization was started by Sandra Brand, a Holocaust survivor, and focuses on restoring old Torahs and donating them to colleges and universities around the world.
At Virginia Tech, memories of the professor, his work and his character are still fresh for some.
“He was a very elegant man, very cultured,” said professor Ishwar Puri, head of the engineering, science and mechanics department and friend of Librescu. “He had high expectations, high tolerance. That’s one of the lessons we can take to our world.”
Through his work, the professor collaborated with people of different races and religious beliefs.
“He did not hold bitterness in his heart,” Puri said. “He embraced people.”
Puri presented Rabbi Zwiebel with a stem from a plant Librescu and his wife gave him when he first came to the school in 2004. Puri considers the plant a metaphor for Librescu’s life.
“He nurtured people,” he said. “He sacrificed. He built a legacy.”
After the ceremony, the crowd clapped and sang as it followed behind the Torah from the chapel to the Librescu Jewish Student Center on Wall Street.
Students and friends took turns carrying the Sefer Torah under a chupah and danced outside of the student center before placing it in the aron kodesh.