Thursday, July 3, 2014

Reflections on the death of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad


Folks have asked for my remarks from last night's powerful memorial service at the Siegel JCC (and thanks to the more than 130 who attended). Below you'll find my reflections. 

In addition, you can find the poem Rabbi Brian Eng recited here

Reflections on the death of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali
"For the thing which I greatly feared has come upon me, and that which I was afraid of has come unto me." (Job 3:25) 
This past Friday, as we recited the blessings welcoming Shabbat into our home, I got to do something that the parents of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali weren’t able to do: recite a blessing over my son, a blessing that every parent recites over their children at Shabbat, a blessing, proscribed in Torah, that ends “May God give you Peace.” At my synagogue we left three seats as you see here, reserved for when the boys would return home to their parents’ Shabbat table. 
Eyal, Gilad and Naftali’s parents will never get to recite a blessing over their sons’ heads. They will never sit at their parents’ tables again. As Naftali's mother said in her son's eulogy, they will have to learn to sing without them. Nor will Muhammad Qaraqara’s parents, he now laid to rest mere days before we learned of our three boys’ loss. And this morning brought news of more death, another teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, possibly out of rage and hate. Five teenagers, four Israelis, three Jews, innocents lost forever. 
Two of them were students of Adin Steinsaltz, the sage of our time, and upon hearing of their passing he cried out the words of the psalmist: “Awake! Why are you sleeping O Eternal! Rouse yourself! Do not abandon us forever.” And then told his companion, Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, “All we can do…is shout and protest…People will light memorial candles, recite prayers, and attend vigils,” he said. “Our boys were killed al Kiddush Hashem, because they were Jews…Therefore, to best honor their memories – indeed, to confront evil –we must act always as proud Jews, in our deeds and through our lives.” 
And that is why we are here. To recommit ourselves to honor their names, three more children to weep over, their seats empty at their parents’ Shabbat table. We light memorial candles, we recite prayers, we attend this vigil. But more than that: we must confront evil in all its forms. We must stand up for the innocent in our midst. We must make those moments of blessing real and true and immediate. We must prevent those words ‘May God grant you Peace” from turning into ash in the mouth. In short, we must be Jews, proudly, unequivocally, joyfully. 
Nothing will bring back Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach , and Gil-ad Shaar. Nothing will bring back Muhammad Qaraqara. Nothing will bring back our boys. But we can pray, and act, and hope, and fulfill the prayer of songwriter Avi Koren: 
Our eyes are already dry from the tearsAnd our mouth is left mute of sound.Tell me, what else can we ask for?We have already asked for everything.We have already covered one grave and anotherWe’ve buried our hearts among the cypressesGive us rain in its due timeAnd scatter flowers in the springAnd let him come back to his homeWe don’t need more than that. 

1 comment:

  1. And if interested, you can find the eulogy delivered by Yair Lapid at Gil-ad Shaar's funeral here: