On Tuesday, November 18, Rabbi Kalman Levine was one of four men, whose lives were stolen from them as they prayed. At 7am, two armed Palestinians entered the busy Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue in the West Jerusalem suburb of Har Nof during Shaharit. The men had their backs to the assassins, identified as cousins Odai Abed Abu Jamal, 22, and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, 32, when they were killed.
Rabbi Levine is survived by his wife, Chaya, who was born in Cleveland, as well as 10 children and five grandchildren. He was 55. One of Rabbi Levine’s sons, Rabbi Yerachmiel Levine, spoke to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying, “My father would study Torah all day long and would return home at night only to learn some more until he would fall asleep in his chair. Abba, you were in the middle of saying the Shema when your soul left your body and the terrorists came and murdered you.”
Rabbi Levine had spent several years in Los Angeles before moving to Israel. Shimon Kraft lives in Los Angeles and owns The Mitzvah Store on Pico Blvd. He spoke to the press about his strong friendship with Rabbi Levine that has lasted since childhood. He spoke about their lives growing up and how Levine moved to Los Angeles from Kansas City after high school and became engrossed in Torah study while being mentored by Rabbi Zvi Block in North Hollywood. Kraft described Levine as an exceedingly humble person who was a serious student dedicated to increasing his knowledge of Judaism and Torah. At the same time, Kraft remembered that Rabbi Levine kept a sharp sense of humor.
Rabbi Block established the first Los Angeles branch of Aish HaTorah in North Hollywood in 1976 and Levine was one of Block’s first five students. Rabbi Block remembered Levine as one of the brightest young minds he ever encountered. Levine’s relationship with Rabbi Block guided Levine through his decision to drop out of his USC college studies in dentistry and to commit to a study of Torah on a full-time basis. Rabbi Block revealed that Levine once gave him two books on Jewish Law, as a symbol of gratitude. Block found the note inside one of the books and revealed its content, “Dear Rabbi Block, here is a small token of appreciation for sending me to Eretz Yisrael. If it wasn’t for you it is very possible I would never have had the opportunity to learn Torah. Thank you for changing my life, Kalman Levine.”