It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were found north of Hebron in the West Bank.
This is not a political note. This is a human note. I am writing because three innocent children were killed, and our world, our community, the prospect of peace, now all seem less hopeful. We are human beings and we should mourn and mark the loss of other human beings, always, but especially when the circumstances are as tragic and unwarranted as these.
Only 48 hours ago, over Shabbat, we recited a prayer written by Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum wherein we wept:
God of Israel,
Beneficent sovereign of all Creation,
enable us now
to have true faith
and to pray and to call out to You
with plea after plea,
so that our cry might rise
to the very Gates of Mercy,
to Mercy itself.
And all reality shall be turned around
so that relief, rescue, and life
may be the lot of those young men.
I am struck by the line in the above prayer wherein we ask that reality itself be turned around. According to the early news reports, the three were killed shortly after their abduction, on June 12th. In order for the prayers we had offered to have been effective, we would literally have had to turn around the laws of time and space to bring our children home.
And yet, even a request such as this is insufficient. We should be able to do more, and yet we can't. All our prayers, all our vigils, all our tears. Still loss, still pain, still death.
The loss created by these deaths will reverberate throughout our community and in Israel. Friends will mourn, parents will be inconsolable. But life will go on. It is easy to become anesthetized to all of the loss that occurs in life, reported by some periodical, transpiring on some distant continent. I am asking you to please not let yourself become numb to these deaths. I am asking you to feel these losses, to take a moment, a breath, two breaths, and acknowledge what these deaths mean to their families, to their friends, to their communities. To our families. To our friends. To our communities. To us.
These were children. These were our children.
HaMakom Yenacheim Et'chem Betoch She'ar Aveilei Tziyon VeYerushalayim. May God offer comfort to their families, friends and communities, and to all who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…