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Americans killed in Israel mourned

UPI, Washington 8/1/2002

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Family, friends and coworkers on Thursday mourned the five American victims of a bomb that ripped through a crowded cafeteria at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Janis Ruth Coulter, 36, of New York City; Benjamin Blutstein, 25, of Lancaster, Pa.; Marla Bennett, 24, of San Diego; David Gritz, 24, who holds dual American-French citizenship and a fifth person with Israeli and American citizenship who has not been identified, were all killed in the bomb blast that killed seven people and injured more than 80 others.

As assistant director of academic affairs at the Hebrew University's Rothberg International School in New York City, Coulter dealt with student admissions, financial aid and arrangements for students to study in Jerusalem.

According to Laurie Frankel, director of student financial services at the New York school, Coulter had been with the university since 1999.

"She was a respected professional and we are being flooded with condolences because of all of the people she dealt with in her position," Frankel told United Press International. "She was a wonderful colleague and friend whom I will miss dearly."

The Rothberg International School offers undergraduate and graduate students a selection of courses taught in English by Hebrew University professors in Jerusalem for a summer, a semester or a year. The New York office is administrative and no student classes are held there.

Before the Rothberg International School, Coulter worked at the combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston which funds educational, humanitarian and other programs in Boston, Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

Coulter was born in West Roxbury, Mass., and was raised as an Episcopalian but she converted to Judaism in 1996, the religion of her maternal grandmother.

Her interest in Judaism grew while a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned a bachelor's degree in history. She received a master's degree in Jewish studies from the University of Denver, according to Frankel.

She is survived by her father and sister in Boston.

Gritz, the son of an American father and Croatian mother, grew up in Paris where his father is a teacher. The family has a cabin in the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts where the family spent summers.

He was to have begun a graduate program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Jewish thought. Gritz had earned a degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Blutstein, who was completing a two-year program to be a teacher in Jewish Studies at Hebrew University, had been scheduled to return to Pennsylvania Thursday.

The two slain Israelis were: 53-year-old Lavina Shapira and 29-year-old David Ludovisky both of Jerusalem.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, who had attended Hebrew University as student, laid a wreath at the cafeteria Thursday.

A member of Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack and said more were in store.

Menachem Magidor, president of Hebrew University, said the victims include many members of the University community -- students, teachers, employees, and visitors from all parts of the world both Jews and Arabs.

"As I stood facing the destruction, the pools of blood and the wounded, I was forced to ask myself how we can continue in our research, teaching and other vibrant activity while we mourn for the victims," Magidor said in a statement. "The answer is clear and it is expressed by the Hebrew word davka, 'despite everything,' the perpetrators of such heinous acts may kill those dear to us, but they cannot destroy our vision and our determination to continue to create a society that is based on reason and mutual understanding."

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