LOS ANGELES (AP/CBSLA.com) — A relative of a former Southland resident who was killed in a deadly attack in a Jerusalem synagogue says he dedicated his life to the people and land of Israel.

Shimon Kraft, who lives in Los Angeles, is the former brother-in-law and childhood best friend of Rabbi Cary William Levine, according to The Jewish Journal.

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“Devastating. The loss is devastating,” Kraft told KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper.

Levine was a native of Kansas City who studied religion at the University of Southern California before leaving for Israel, The Associated Press reported.

The 50-year-old Levine was one of four people killed in a grisly attack during morning prayers. The two attackers were killed by police.

Three of the victims — Levine, Aryeh Kopinsky, and Moshe Twersky — were dual American-Israeli citizens, a police official confirmed to CBS News.

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Kraft, who owns The Mitzvah Store on West Pico Boulevard, told The Jewish Journal he and Levine traveled to Israel together in the late 1970s and attended a post-high school study program at Yeshiva University Los Angeles (YULA).

Levine had lived in Israel since his 20s and taught at a seminary there, according to The Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, ten children and five grandchildren.

“He was a great father. An unbelievable husband. Sometimes people say that after a person’s gone but this is really true. It’s the real deal. He was very special. The kindest person I ever knew,” Kraft said.

Southland lawmakers including State Senator Ted Lieu and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer joined government officials in condemnation of the attacks and called on Palestinian leaders to stop such “acts of violence” and “incitement and rhetoric which inspires these acts.”

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