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Written in Israel at the completion of the Shiva of the three Israeli families, and during the grieving of Hadir family
There was a time that Israelis bragged about having a "normal" country. They had police and they had firemen. They had municipal workers and sewer cleaners. They had prostitutes and a Russian crime ring. The avenues were named after Jewish heroes and great Torah scholars, politicians intellectuals and philosophers and philanthropists. It was a Jewish country that had all these things and because these were signs of normalcy, there was a certain satisfaction for a people who had lived a ghettoed and restricted life for centuries. Of course that blessing is also a curse, because along with having a normal country comes having extremists, perverts and yes, terrorists. There is nothing satisfying about this. Criminal elements and racists exist in Israel as they do in any other country.
So what can we conclude about the grisly murder and kidnapping of three innocent teens in Israel that was answered by yet another grisly murder of a young Arab, Muhmad Abu Hadir, this time by a ring of Jewish terrorist extremists as payback? Are we to understand, as the media is presenting and as Palestinian leadership are suggesting, that Israelis are thugs and terrorists and that the Zionist "occupying" aggressive policies and authorities are the ones who should be condemned. Are we to digest this as just another example of tit for tat in an endless cycle of violence in which both sides are equally guilty?
The first thing that we conclude is that we too should grieve the loss of an innocent Arab boy who was the victim of ultra-nationalist racist rage and vengeance. May he find comfort with G-d. In our hearts, we too ought to express the same sentiments that the Fraenkel family expressed to Mahmud's father, Hussein Abu Hadir, when they told him that there are no excuses for terrorists, whether they target Arab or Jew; that the loss of his son is as devastating as the loss of their son. Terrorists are a blight in all societies and our hearts are broken for his loss too.
The second thing we can conclude is that equating the two sides–Palestinian and Israeli–is unfair and inaccurate. Yes, we have our terrorist element, but they are a mere handful in the history of the conflict. There have been horrible crimes committed in the name of Jewish nationalist extremism but they are rare, and are condemned by the left, the right and the center. General Chief of Staff Moshe Ayalon said he was ashamed, and this crime against Mahmud in no way represents the values of Judaism or of Jewish people. The Prime Minister condemned it as a reprehensible crime even before the perpetrators were known, and when he did, he labeled them terrorists who will face the full force of the law in court. MK Bennet, a right wing politician, called for legislation that equalizes the punishment for terrorists, Arab or Jew. Rabbinic authorities condemned their actions as a Hillul Hashem, a desecration of G-d's Name, for their moral perversion and for the damage they did to the reputation of the Jewish people.
It is unfortunately our obligation to mourn together the tragedy regarding the loss of three tzadikim (pious young teenagers), who were unecessarily kidnapped and murdered near Chevron in the West Bank. We mourn the tragic loss of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar. The intensive search for these three young teenagers unfortunately resulted in the discovery of the three bodies that were buried in a shallow grave in the West Bank.
How can such unjustified cruelty be explained? Three dynamic young men, all of them studying at Yeshiva in the holy land of Israel and still in the prime of their young lives!
To their loving parents, families, friends and k'lal Yisrael, we all mourn their untimely passing.
As it says in the Eil Maleh Rachamimi, the Memorial prayer, "Et nishmot hakdoshim v'hathorim shehoomtoo v'shenehergoo v'shenishchatoo v'shenisr'foo v'shenetb'oo v'shenech'n'koo al kidush Hashem–for the souls of the holy and the pure, ones who were killed and murdered for the sanctification of G-d's name."
May their souls be bound up in the bond of life, and may their memories always be for a blessing.
To their families we declare:
On behalf of the Board of Directors of ENJC, it is my honor as President to be the first to wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year! I am looking forward with great anticipation to seeing you all on Wednesday night, September 24, 2014 – 1 Tishri, to celebrate the New Year 5775.
While most of our congregants are relaxing during these summer months, our dedicated Board of Directors and committee members are hard at work planning and coordinating the High Holidays. These congregants, who have volunteered to serve on the Congregation, Sisterhood and Men's Club Boards and committees, are busy planning all of the synagogue and family events for the year. The Rabbi will be writing his sermons and Chazan will be working with our outstanding choir, as well as preparing to lead our High Holiday services. It is my hope that you not only participate in some of our outstanding programs, but that you become involved in the planning process.
I am honored and excited to serve as your Congregation President and I look forward to greeting each of you and wishing you a L'Shanah Tova at ENJC during the High Holidays. Read More