Jun 25, 2010

Rabbi Gary Creditor: "Gilad Shalit: Four Years Later Four Years Too Late"

Gilad Shalit – Four Years Later – Four Years Too Late

Rabbi Gary S. Creditor

June 25, 2010

Richmond, Virginia


When Ruby and I led our synagogue tour to Israel in the summer of 2006, Gilad Shalit had just been captured, kidnapped in a terrorist attack at the Keren Shalom crossing point into Gaza. The terrible of irony of these past days in the demand for 'humanitarian aid' to be allowed to enter Gaza, this was one of those crossing points. How does the world expect material to enter if the Hamas terrorists attack the Israelis on their side of the border? Why does the word "humanitarian" apply to "them" and "not to us?" [I don't like the answer I have, but from millennium of hatred of the Jews is the answer that they don't consider us human.]  It is inconceivable that four long, hard years later he is still in captivity. His parents have been tortured during these years with longing to know if he was even alive. It is not that the State of Israel has not tried to free him. They have. But it is at the price of extortion, of allowing those with Jewish blood on their hands to go scot-free and terrorize and murder again and again. To this Israel will not agree.

Perhaps it is because of the brouhaha created over the flotilla off the Gaza seacoast, and this phony cry for more "humanitarian aid" which was only a vaguely veiled attempt to break open the gates for missiles of all varieties and the materials to make them so to rain down on Israel [which they have continued to do but in only very limited amounts because of the blockade] which is none too humanitarian [depending on how you look at this!] that we, the Jews of the world and of the State of Israel, raise the name of Gilad Schalit as the true humanitarian issue of the Gaza Strip. We pray every morning that God should 'matir asurim' – 'release the imprisoned.' We have to add our voices, our names, to His so to stir all possible places from Heaven to Earth for his release and return home.

To that end I have added here two sources that I have received. Even though I am in Richmond seventeen years, professionally I have kept my relationships with the New York Board of Rabbis and through them to the New York Jewish Community Relations Council. I urge you, I beg of you, to follow the links below and add each and every name of your family and friends to the petitions and messages. There must be a welling up from the Jewish people. It is about Gilad and not about Gilad. Certainly it is for his freedom. Yet the denial of the term "humanitarian" to an Israeli, to a Jew, transcends the individual to our people. It is the denial that we are humans and deserve the same respect, same dignity, the same protection of law, to which everyone else is entitled. The last ones to say that were the Nazis, and no one challenged them. We rise up and challenge the world!! We rise up in fullest self dignity, with a true democratic homeland, with pride, and will not be silent!! Or will we?

Shabbat Shalom


As many of you are aware, Friday, June 25th marks the 4th year of Gilad Shalit's captivity. Let him know you care.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) will bring your message, along with thousands of others, to the International Committee of the Red Cross and demand that Hamas allow the ICRC to visit and deliver the notes to Gilad in accordance with international humanitarian law. Since he was abducted in 2006 all such requests have been denied. We cannot remain silent in the face of Hamas' cruel violation of Gilad's human rights!

Send your message here: 

http://jcrcny.org/gilad/messagetogilad.html  (If this doesn't automatically take you to the website, please copy and paste the link into your internet browser window.)

We will also be sending a copy of your messages to Noam and Aviva Shalit.

For additional resources on Gilad Shalit, please visit http://www.jcrcny.org/gilad. (If this doesn't automatically take you to the website, please copy and paste the link your internet browser window.)

As issues arise, the JCRC-NY will continue to provide you with meaningful opportunities to digitally engage with issues affecting Israel and the Jewish community at large.

To forward this message to a friend click here.


Rabbi Joseph Potasnik
Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis

Often as we take leave of our loved ones, we say, "We love you, see you soon."  Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped soldier and son Gilad has reminded us during the past four years not to take those words for granted.  He has also taught us the importance of these poignant and painful words, "Please do not forget my son."

An ancient legend tells us that when God created the world, He assigned different names to every flower in the universe.  The next day, God reappeared and asked each flower to repeat the name given to it.  Each responded immediately except for one.  That flower said, "God, I do not remember the name that you gave me.  Please tell it to me again."  God turned to the flower and said, "Since you do not remember the name I conferred upon You, I will give you a different one. Your new name will be Al Tishka-chay'nee which means Forget-Me-Not."  According to the folk tale, that is the origin of the flower's name.

Four years ago, a blossoming young man with a bright future named Gilad Shalit was abducted illegally from his family.  Since that fateful day, no international body has been permitted to see him and ascertain his well being.

This week, the fourth anniversary of his kidnapping, we faithfully fulfill our promise to Gilad's father as we demand his son's immediate release and return to his loving family.  Some will save a special chair for him in synagogue this Shabbat, some churches will dim their lights for a few minutes, some will travel on a special humanitarian flotilla with signs bearing Gilad's name and some will send letters again to leaders of our country asking that they raise their voices on his behalf.  We must renew our effort to remember Gilad Shalit.

Recently, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak remarked, "The only man in the Gaza Strip who needs humanitarian assistance is Gilad Shalit…A million and a half people are living in Gaza, and only one of them truly needs humanitarian assistance,

only one of them imprisoned, does not merit to see daylight, his health situation is unknown, and his name is Gilad Shalit."  The United Nations Human Rights Council which readily voices its vitriol against Israel is remarkably silent when Gilad is deprived of his human rights.

Rabbi Israel Leventhal z"l was very troubled by a rabbinic description of Balaam, mentioned in this week's portion of Balak.  According to our sages, "Balaam suma b'achat m'eynov haya - Balaam was blind in one eye."  Rabbi Leventhal writes, "I could understand if our sages told us that Balaam was blind in both eyes.  That is telling us something that makes a difference, that's important to know.  Why however do the sages emphasize that he was sightless in one eye?"  Rabbi Leventhal explains, "When Balaam looked at the behavior of other nations and prophesized about their fate, he looked clearly with his good eye.  It was only when he studied the life of the Jews, did he use his blind eye.  He had a blind spot for the Jews."

Does that description not summarize the story for us today in the world?  So many are willing to overlook the serious shortcomings of other peoples but will look unfairly at Israel to find the flaws.

This week's portion contains the famous words "Ma Tovu Oha-lecha Yaakov, Mish-keno'techa Yisrael – How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, Thy dwelling places O Israel." A strange sentence because firstly it was supposed to be a curse from Balaam and secondly, it seems superfluous – it mentions both Jacob and Israel, tents and dwelling places.  Someone once explained the verse to me in this fashion.  What each Jew (Jacob) will do in his/her own tent will be a reflection on the entire community of Israel.  Simply said, when we Jews stand in solidarity as one people and speak with one voice, we can confront the crises of life with moral strength and collective courage.  As the portion reminds us, we must seek to transform a curse into a blessing.  May we fulfill our promise to the Shalit family and soon see Gilad return safely to his home, reunited with those who have waited so long for that moment.

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I wish to thank Rabbis Yaakov Kermaier and Mitchell Wohlberg for their invaluable insights.