Tens of thousands of people worldwide marked the first anniversary of the attack on Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva last week by completing a year of Torah study dedicated in memory of the eight victims.

Coordinated by B’lev Echad – a volunteer organization whose name in Hebrew means “with one heart” – the network of ceremonies featured a grand gathering in Jerusalem, where eight Torah scrolls were presented to the victims’ families to donate to their local synagogues. At the University of Pennsylvania, some 180 students met on the second floor of the Hillel building in an event cosponsored by a host of campus groups, including the Lubavitch House at Penn.

The Feb. 24 gatherings took place on the same Hebrew date – the 29th of Adar – as last year’s attack, in which an Israeli-Arab gunman walked into the well-known yeshiva and opened fire on the group of teenage boys and young men studying inside. Many fled, but the attack claimed the lives of Neria Cohen, 15, Segev Pniel Avihail, 15, Avraham David Moses, 16, Yehonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16, Ro’i Roth, 18, Yohai Lipshitz, 18, Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld, 19, and Doron Mahareta, 26.

Most of the participants at the Penn ceremony volunteered to study the portion of the Mishnah – the second-century compilation of Jewish law and rabbinical enactments upon which the Talmud is based – known as Bava Metzia, which deals with various civil laws. Groups in other parts of the world – from locations across the United States, Canada and Israel, as well as Berlin, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Warsaw, Paris and other international cities – studied other portions of the Talmud and Mishnah, as well as other selected works.

Geoffrey Kiderman, a Penn junior from New Rochelle, N.Y., and one of the project’s campus-based organizers, noted that participants came from across the spectrum of Jewish life.

The initiative didn’t focus on politics, “just Torah studying,” he emphasized, as a way of “reflecting upon the students whose lives were cut short a year ago.”

“It is incredibly moving how many students took upon themselves to study Torah in the wake of the massacre,” said Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Haskelevitch.

Kiderman began the program with a brief overview of the project, which was followed by a video of the massacre’s aftermath and a recording of the Jerusalem Torah dedications. The evening’s proceedings began with a festive meal, a common feature of ceremonies marking the conclusion of studying a Talmudic tractate, and concluded with singing and dancing.

Among the crowd at Penn was Yu Chen, a junior a the university who had joined his Jewish friends for the occasion. While he was looking forward to the free food, he said, he left with an appreciation of last year’s tragedy and the worldwide response.

“What an appropriate memorial for the eight boys,” said Chen. “As I sat there listening, my respect for the Jewish religion and Jewish people grew immensely.”