Rabbis pray for peace
The Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill held a memorial service Wednesday evening at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham to honor the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. Their bodies were found by Israeli military on Monday, two weeks after they had been kidnapped.
Naftali Fraenkel, 19, Eyal Yifrah, 16, and Gilad Shaar, 16, disappeared near the West Bank city of Hebron while hitchhiking home from Jewish seminaries. Israel has identified members of Hamas as suspects.
Steven Schauder, CEO of the federation, said at the service that they were gathered to mourn together the deaths of the three teenagers, as well as the death of Mohammad Abu Khedair. Khedair was a Palestinian teenager kidnapped and murdered this week in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Daniel Greyber of Beth El Synagogue said this is a time of distress and despair for the Jewish people. He said the mourning for the three teenagers has spilled over into vengeance.
“For all who care about the Jewish people, which is why we are here today, it is a perilous moment,” Greyber said. While they are mourning and seeking justice, he said, “Israel must not be criticized by us or the world for fighting to protect itself.” He again called for justice, not revenge, “not to save our enemies, but to save ourselves.”
Greyber then explained one of the meanings of blowing a shofar, in times of distress, as it represents the sobs and wails of a mother who has lost her child.
He asked God’s comfort for the mothers of everyone to guide them through the perilous moment. Greyber then blew the shofar, a ram’s horn.
“Help us to remember with compassion and love the lives of our young,” he said. Fraenkel, Yifrah and Shaar “dwell in the eternity that is within us and the eternity that is beyond us,” Greyber said.
Rabbi Darryl Crystal of Judea Reform Congregation said a prayer for Israel, and Rabbi John Friedman said a prayer for peace. Friedman talked about remembering the later teen years of his own two children, and their hopes and dreams at ages 16 and 19. He prayed for the end to violence and “peace for our boys and girls, and their boys and girls.”