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Dad mourns 'loss of innocence' of Newtown kids

Dec. 15, 2012 at 8:46 AM ET

A Newtown congregation was moved to tears by the words of Benjamin Paley, a nine-year-old survivor of the Sandy Hook massacre, who told them Friday night that if he can get through the tragedy, they can too.

Benjamin's twin brother Ethan also survived. Their dad Andrew Paley told TODAY's Erica Hill that he felt “overwhelming relief" when he was reunited with his sons Friday at the Sandy Hook Firehouse.

Story: Elementary school massacre: 28 killed, including 20 kids

The firehouse was just down the road from the elementary school, which was a scene of chaos and tragedy when Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 people. Of the victims, 20 were children between the ages of 5 and 10.    

The twin boys were in separate classrooms during the shooting, and are still “very scared,” Paley said. Both heard the gunshots.

The twins’ brother, Jacob, 3, went right to sleep last night. The twins weren't able to, asking to sleep in their parents’ room. “It’s a loss of innocence,” Paley said.  

Read: Newtown pastor: Parents asked about kids' last moments

Paley is the president of Congregation Adath Israel, a synagogue in the community. He knew the school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was one of the victims. A family in his congregation lost their child in the tragedy.

“They’re very emotional,” Paley said of the family. “I think they’re trying to come to grips with what happened.”

During Friday night services at the synagogue, Benjamin spoke to the congregation.

“He said to everybody that if a nine-year-old can get through this all of you can,” Paley said. His son then returned to his seat, leaving the congregation with tears in their eyes.

“We’ll get through this,” he said.

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