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N.Y. Jews' reactions to slaying varied

Guiliani November 5, 1995
Web posted at: 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York's mayor presides over a city with the largest population of Jews outside of Israel, and Rudy Giuliani was quick Saturday to express the grief and regret of many of his constituents over the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. "All New Yorkers join me in offering our prayers and condolences to his widow, Leah, and to his family and to all the people of Israel," he said. "We must now do all we can to live up to his legacy of peace."

Yet only hours after the Sabbath ended and Jews in New York began learning of Rabin's death, the chasm among those of the same faith was never more evident. From kosher restaurants to black tie dinners, news of the Israeli prime minister's assassination triggered a range of emotions.

orthodox Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood is home to thousands of orthodox Jews, many of whom see the peace process shepherded by Rabin as the undoing of the Jewish state. Their reaction to his murder was largely ambivalent. "I think the fact that was a Jew, I'm sorry that was killed," said one resident. But he added, "as a politician I think it was a good thing." Another resident said, "It's absolutely deplorable, but it's certainly understandable."

mourners Yet other Jews gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in Manhattan holding candles, praying, and groping for reasons to remain positive about the prospects for peace. "I think it will not slow the peace process. ... It's too late for anyone to stop this," said one.

Leon Levy of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations agrees. "I'm very optimistic that this will be a catalyst that will bring some sense to the diverse elements the extremists of either side," he said.

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