Israeli Murdered in US was ‘living the American dream’

Israeli expatriate shot dead alongside 4 others by former employee, started successful business in Minnesota 30 yrs ago.

Rami Cooks, his production director & also former Israeli, was killed as well.

By Yaron Druckman

Reuven Rahamim, 61, who was shot deadat his own office along with four other people on Thursday night in Minneapolis, was living the “American dream” after moving up from being a laborer to an owner of a company with a turnover of over $5 million a year, his friends said.

Another Israeli, Rami Cooks, who worked for Rahamim at his signage manufacturing firm, was also killed in the massacre, as well as three other men and the gunman, who shot himself. Two others were injured. The shooter was a former employee who was fired a few hours before the incident, according to the police.

Only hours before his death, Rahamim told a local newspaper about the hardships he endured in the ’60s as a young man living and working on an Israeli farm where even toilets weren’t available. His son-in-law, Chad Blumenfeld, told reporters that Rahamim faught in the Yom Kippur War.

כוחות המשטרה באזור הירי. "רחמים היה סיפור הצלחה" (צילום: AP)

Near scene of crime – Photo: AP

He moved to the United States in the mid-’70s and started out as a simple laborer, his friends said. About a decade later he opened a sign-making factory, Accent Signage Systems, which now has some 3,500 clients across 36 countries. According to Blumenfeld, Rahamim was devoted to his wife and three children.

“Reuven is the classic American success story,” Rahamim’s friend, Gil Mann, said.

“An immigrant with nothing, very little education – eighth grade I believe. He came here, invented things, hired people, hit the street to work, and built a company that was a world leader in making innovative signs.”

The business owner was also active in Minneapolis’ Jewish community.


Fate’s bad sense of humor

Cooks, 62, also an Israeli expat, worked at the company as a production manager. He was shot in the head and died of his wounds at the hospital several hours after the incident. He left Israel in 1984.

His family released a statement late Friday, saying “Rami was the epitome of a family man who enjoyed nothing more than spending his free time with loved ones. Rami was larger than life. We will miss him beyond words.”

הרוצח ככל הנראה התאמן על שימוש בכלי נשק (צילום: MCT)

Scene of incident – Photo: MCT

He was survived by his life partner, Pam Wexler, and four children.

“Rami had a big heart, cared about everyone and tried to make everyone feel like a team,” a former employee at Accent Sinage, Meaghan Norlander, was quoted as saying by the Star Tribune newspaper’s website. She described Cooks as Rahamim’s right-hand man.

His nephew, Saar Cooks, wrote on his Facebook wall that his family had gone through quite a bit of misfortune.

“My grandfather’s entire family was burnt at Treblinka. Only his little brother, Yerachmiel, managed to escape the fire. But at the very end of the war his German boss lost it and stuck a bullet in (Yerachmiel’s) head. My grandpa called his son, my uncle, after his little brother: Rami Cooks. Yesterday, in Minnesota, Rami’s employee, who was fired, lost it and stuck a bullet in (Rami’s) and several other people’s heads. Fate has a bad sense of humor sometimes.”

Cooks and Rahamim are to be laid to rest on Sunday. The three other victims in the incident were Jacob Beneke, 34, Ronald Edberg, 58, both employees at Accent Sinage, and Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS driver who was making a delivery.

According to his family, the shooter, Andrew J. Engeldinger, 36, was showing signs of mental illness in recent years.

Minneapolis Police Captain Amelia Huffman said that the employees struggled in the office before the shots were fired. Engeldinger used 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol he had owned for about a year. He was found dead in the basement.


View original Ynet publication at:,7340,L-4286960,00.html