Avraham Goldberg was a “peace-loving” and “tolerant” grandfather, his family has said.
“Apparently he was the first one they shot at,” his cousin, Michelle Hirschfield, told The Independent. “These kids that killed him were working in the local grocery shop down the road; they had jobs there,” she claimed.
The bodies of her 68-year-old cousin and the other three shot dead are said to have been “hacked to pieces with knives and hatchets,” she said.
It is an “extremely upsetting” time for the family. “I’ve obviously been shaken, very shaken.”
Ms Hirschfield, a 63-year-old lawyer from London, said: “We were brought up in Liverpool together. He was an only child and I’m one of five children, and he was like our surrogate brother.”
Mr Goldberg went to Liverpool Institute, then studied chemical engineering at Sheffield University and Imperial College London, before setting up a business organising conferences for pharmaceutical companies and then going into publishing.
In pictures: Jerusalem synagogue attack
In pictures: Jerusalem synagogue attack
Mourners attend the funerals of Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Avraham Goldberg, three of the four people killed in a shooting attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem
A young mourner during the triple funeral of Rabbi Kalman Levine, Avraham Goldberg and Arieh Kupinsky
Ultra-Orthodox Jews mourn during a eulogy ceremony ahead of the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, one of the four jewish victims
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of one of the two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking worshippers at a synagogue to an ambulance in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Israeli man that was injured in an attack, by two Palestinians on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue, is taken to an ambulance by emergency personnel in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
A bullet hole in the synagogue's front glass seen from inside and looking outwards to the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem
An Israeli rescue worker navigates the scene of the shooting attack
Blood trails are seen on the floor near covered bodies at the scene of the attack on November 18, 2014
The bloody scene of the deadly attack
An Ultra-orthodox jewish man prays at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
An Israeli police officer gestures as he holds a weapon near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue
Blood trails are seen on the floor at the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue
Israeli emergency services personnel clean the sidewalk at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces stand next to the body of one of two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security personnel run next to the synagogue in Har Nof, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of an assailant who was shot dead while attacking a synagogue
Ultra-orthodox Jews watch the scene, after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces secure the scene after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces secure the scene, after two Palestinians attacked a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
The father of six lived in Golders Green, London with his wife Bryna, who worked as a teacher, for many years. The family left Britain to live in Israel “about 18 years ago”, according to Ms Hirschfield.
Her cousin “was a well-learned man, a peace- loving person, very educated; the sort of person whose philosophy in life was everybody does what they want to do. He was very tolerant.”
She added: “He has six children [five daughters and a son]. Three are married. He’s got grandchildren. Two grandchildren were married recently.”
The Goldberg family “are very upstanding members of the British community”, and Mr Goldberg’s uncle was known as “the angel of medicine” in Liverpool.
“He would go round on a Saturday with his medical bag and a bucket of coal to all these poor people in these Coronation Street type houses. He would take them food because he knew they were ill because they were cold and they didn’t have heating. He was a legend in Liverpool - and that’s the sort of family he came from,” commented Ms Hirschfield.
Her cousin took a keen interest in current affairs. “He was online every morning, read all the British newspapers. He would tell me what was in them before I’d even read them,” she said.
And she recalled how they had discussed the recent problems in Gaza. “He just felt ‘what is it coming to? How can people be so radicalised? How can life be reduced to people wanting to be martyrs, killing other people?’”
Ms Hirschfield recognised the synagogue on the news as she had dropped him off there during a visit to Israel six months ago. “I immediately texted him because I knew he’d go to the synagogue in the morning.”
She added: “I then rang my sister, who lives in Israel. She had tried to get in touch with him and couldn’t. She then rang the house and spoke to the son who said ‘dad’s not answering the mobile, mummy’s gone down to the synagogue’.”
Her sister then “rang up the hospitals in Jerusalem to find out if he’d been admitted and got nowhere.”
Hours later, they learned he was dead. Thousands attended a funeral for Mr Goldberg, and two of the other victims, Aryeh Kupinsky and Cary William Levine, in Jerusalem today.
Mr Goldberg “would only want justice to be done” according to his cousin. “I don’t think he would say ‘go out and shoot them all’.”
She added: “Arabs and Jews throughout Israel live side by side, especially in Jerusalem. The ordinary person only wants to get on with each other. I just feel that people think we can’t live side by side - that’s not true - we can.”Reuse content