Overland Park

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Kansas City’s Jewish community has once again been touched by tragedy – this time in the heart of Israel. Two of the victims of today’s Jerusalem synagogue attack had close ties with local Jewish day school Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, based in Overland Park, Kan.

Rabbis Kalman Levine and Mosheh Twersky were among four religious men brutally gunned down in a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers. In addition, an Israeli Druze police officer died following the attack.

Rabbi Levine, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., was a member of the first graduating class in 1976 of Kansas City’s only Jewish day school, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. Rabbi Twersky’s nephew, Meshulam Twersky, is currently a lower school teacher at HBHA.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of four members of the Jewish community in Jerusalem today,” said Howard M Haas, HBHA’s head of school, during an afternoon news conference.

“We extended our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both these men, including the lifelong friends that Rabbi Levine made during his time at HBHA.”

Earlier in the day, HBHA teachers spoke with students about the Jerusalem attack that took the men’s lives. Rabbi Meshulam Twersky has been at HBHA for three years and is a beloved teacher.

“Each of his students wrote him letters of condolence,” Haas said. “In addition, HBHA staff and faculty came together to hold a memorial service for both Rabbis Levine and Twersky.”

Rabbi Daniel Rockoff, president of the Kansas City Rabbinical Association and an HBHA teacher and close colleague of Rabbi Meshulam Twersky, spoke on behalf of the local Jewish community.

“Earlier today I had the opportunity to talk with Rabbi Twersky about the death of his uncle. Rabbi Levine and his uncle were part of a close-knit community and knew each other well,” Rabbi Rockoff said. “Both of these men personified Jewish ideals and values and were deeply committed to their families. They will be deeply missed by their spouses, children and grandchildren.”
- Story from Jane Blumenthal Martin, HBHA

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On the same day that a preliminary hearing had been scheduled in Johnson County in a case where a a neo-Nazi allegedly shot and killed three persons outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, an announcement was made about a new group that will promote racial and religious acceptance in the community.

A faith walk, song contest and community gathering will take place in April 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the shooting deaths of three Kansas City area residents outside of two Jewish institutions by an alleged Neo Nazi. The announcement was made Wednesday by Mindy Corporan whose son, Reat Griffin Underwood, and father, Dr. William Corporon, were killed outside of the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park. Terri LaManno was gunned down outside of Village Shalom, an older adult living community.

A springtime event is meant to bring together diverse groups of faith and culture to work together to create understanding and counter hate. The event is being put together by The Reat Griffin Underwood Memorial Foundation/Faith Always Wins initiative, the LaManno Family, and the newly formed Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality Foundation.

A steering committee comprised of a cross-section of the community is working on the details for the major event. While still in the planning stages, this event will include a Faith Walk beginning from the Jewish Community Campus and concluding at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. A Celebration of Life will take place at COR that will include performances of the three top songs selected as part of RRACE’s Songwriting Contest. Teens ages 14-21 are invited to submit original songs that address themes of racial, religious and/or cultural equality.

During the week prior to the community event, the public is asked to perform good deeds as part of Seven Days of Kindness. Those experiences can be shared through Facebook on Popeye and Reat’s “Something Good” Page. Other organizations involved as community partners include COR, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom.

The alleged shooter’s case was delayed Wednesday for a mental evaluation.

A woman was injured and taken to the hospital after an accident Thursday morning on I-635 northbound on Gibbs Road in Kansas City, Kan.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol trooper’s report, a Ford Expedition was northbound on I-635 when the driver lost control, crossed lanes of traffic and struck the barrier wall.

There were heavy rains on Thursday morning.

The driver, a 40-year-old Overland Park, Kan., woman, was injured and taken to a Johnson County hospital, according to the report.