There should have been birthday candles. Instead there were candles of mourning.
Janis Ruth Coulter would have been 37 last Monday. The petite blonde, who fell in love with Judaism while studying about the Holocaust in college, should have been celebrating with her friends and coworkers at the East Side offices of the Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she served as assistant director of the office of academic affairs.
Rebecca Spilke walked slowly to the lectern at Sutton Place Synagogue. Taking a deep breath, the petite, brown-haired 26-year-old spoke of her love for Benjamin Blutstein.
"I was almost excited to come here; I was expecting to see Ben," she confided to the audience of about 200.
But Ben would not be at the East Side synagogue. Nor would eight others who were killed with him on July 31when a terrorist bomb exploded in the Frank Sinatra cafeteria at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus.
New York City and Hebrew University were each chosen as terror targets because of their openness and embrace of diversity, City Council leaders said Tuesday as they renamed a street in memory of Janis Ruth Coulter.
The Massachusetts native, who converted to Judaism and moved to Brooklyn, was among nine people murdered last summer when a terrorist's bomb destroyed the cafeteria at the University's Mount Scopus campus.