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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rabbi sets aside grief for daughter's wedding

Rabbi Menachem Matusof, right, celebrates his daughter Mussie's wedding to Mendel Rosenblum on Tuesday at Calgary's Beth Tzedec Synagogue.

On the day of his daughter's wedding, a Calgary rabbi was in mourning.

Rabbi Menachem Matusof is the younger brother of Rabbi Yosef Matusof, the senior rabbi, founder and principal of the elementary school in Toulouse, France, where three children and a rabbinical student were murdered in a terrorist spree last week. Seven people in all were killed.

"Like everyone in the Jewish community, we are devastated," said Menachem Matusof, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta.

"Everyone is still in shock. . . . It's painful."

Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old radical Islamist with self-professed al-Qaeda links, was killed last Thurs-day in a standoff with police. Merah also gunned down three soldiers in separate attacks.

After the bloody rampage, Matusof said his daughter Mussie was preparing for one of the most joyous occasions in her life.

But while 600 people at-tended the wedding Tuesday, Matusof said one important guest was absent.
Rabbi Yosef, his brother, had no choice but to cancel his flight to Calgary when the massacre unfolded.

"He has to be with the com-munity," said Matusof, who hasn't been able to reach his brother on the phone since the murders took place.

"There's obviously a lot of psychological work that needs to happen with all the school-children and the classmates and siblings."

The tragedy is all the more real for Matusof, who said he visited his brother at the school in Toulouse just three months ago.

While there, Matusof said he didn't sense any tension or anti-Semitism in the city.
"There were no issues. None whatsoever," he said.

Matusof said it's hard to imagine how Toulouse residents are coping with the loss.

"I don't want to put myself in the shoes of the people there who have to deal with it, many of whom I know," he said.

"As a rabbi, when a tragedy in the community happens to a family, I know how difficult it is for me."

Although they are saddened by the events in France, Matusof said the family put aside their sorrow and enjoy the festivities on his daughter's special day.

He said postponing the wed-ding, which is forbidden by Jewish law unless an immediate family member dies, was out of the question.

"Is there is going to be a mention of the tragedy in Toulouse? Yes, of course," he explained, "but in Judaism, our philosophy is that the joy takes priority over everything else.

"A little light pushes away a lot of darkness."

The Calgary Herald

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