Among American Jews, ‘You See Many Broken Spirits’ After Attack

For many Jews, the trouble was compounded by ties to friends, relatives or colleagues in Israel, some of whom were still missing or missing on Monday.

Rabbi David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, described obsessively watching the news in recent days while in constant contact with friends in Israel. “I know a large number of people whose children have been mobilized and who have spent the night in safe houses, who have lost friends or had their friends kidnapped,” he said.

Like others, he said he fears what lies ahead and the likelihood that the number of people will grow. “As a human being and as a rabbi, the last thing I want to see is innocents dying for the decisions of their leaders,” he said.

At Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., a school founded by American Jews, the mood was festive Monday, said Ronald Liebowitz, the university’s president, who spent part of the day wandering the campus and talking to students. Many mourned on behalf of renowned professor emeritus Ilan Troen, whose daughter and son-in-law were killed in the attack while protecting their 16-year-old son, who survived.

As he prepares for the possibility of growing tension between campus groups with opposing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Liebowitz said he feels the usual campus debates have been put on hold.

“Politics, at least here, seems to have been put aside for now,” he said, adding, “Nobody that I know of is looking at those policy issues right now. They look at the savagery of these attacks.”

Anna Betts contributed to the reporting.

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