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Jewish 6-year-old Youngest of Newtown Shooting Victims
A Jewish child was identified as the youngest of the 26 victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Noah Pozner, a first-grader like all of the children killed at the school on Friday, had turned 6 on Nov. 20. He will be laid to rest on Sunday.
The Israeli news site Ynet reported that Noah's twin sister also is a student at Sandy Hook but survived the shooting.
Rabbi Shaul Praver of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown told NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon that he spent Friday, which he termed "the day from hell," consoling Noah's mother, who is a member of the synagogue.
"I told the mother that was grieving that I personally believe in the eternity of the soul, and I believe that she will see her son again," Praver said. "Other than that theological comment, the rest of it was getting her to think about taking a breath and not trying to plan the rest of her life out right now because she says, 'What am I going to do without my baby?' "
Praver was among the clergy, social workers and psychologists who arrived at a firehouse near the school where many of the victims and their families congregated after the shooting. On Saturday morning, Adath Israel held a community prayer service.
In response to the question of why such tragedies happen, Praver replied, "I don't know the answer to that. I never try to present a theological answer to that. I think what's more important is to have compassion, humanity and hold someone's hand and hug them and cry with them."
Praver, who ended his NPR interview with a plea for listeners to pray for the families affected, also said that another friend of the congregation was killed.
Twenty children and six school employees, were killed Friday when Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into the building and opened fire. Lanza, who had attended the Sandy Hook school, also killed his mother, Nancy, in the home they shared.
"On behalf of the people of Israel, as friends and as parents, we stand with you today in contemplation and grief over the atrocious, incomprehensible massacre of 20 children and six adults -- educators -- at Sandy Hook Elementary School," Israeli President Shimon Peres wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. "No experience with death can be likened to that of a parents’ loss of their child. No crime is more heinous than the killing of a child."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a letter sent Friday that he was "shocked and horrified by today's savage massacre of innocent children and adults" at the school.
"We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring," Netanyahu wrote. "I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones. May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy."
In a video message posted on YouTube, Netanyahu addressed the American people, saying, "The people of Israel grieve with you. I can only pray that God will give you the strength, as he has given us, to overcome the tragedy and go on living."