By Chanita Teitz
From the moment I heard that they found the bodies of our three boys, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar, and Naftali Frenkel, I couldn’t concentrate. I was numb and everyone I spoke to was in a daze. Although we all knew that the chances that they would be found alive grew slimmer each day, we kept hoping, davening, and gathering for Tehillim. Throughout the world, Jews gathered in unity for these boys. We all have sons, grandsons, nephews, cousins, neighbors, and friends with boys their ages. So these boys became the symbol of “our boys” and our greatest fear for their welfare was felt by all of us.
What is there to say at this difficult time? There are so many postings going viral on the Internet in memory of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. I had my computer on at work to watch as much as I could of the funeral. Hundreds of thousands of people came from all over Israel on buses and by car. Many of those who came by car had to leave their cars at the side of the road and walk, since the road was so overcrowded.
The speeches were all respectful to the boys and to their families. But what are words? At this time, words are lacking. What we feel is a mix of emotion, sadness, hope, and a wish that we don’t lose the unity we have gained during these 18 days.
What about fear of where our world is headed? I am afraid that Israel could be headed towards an all-out vicious war. Even if they strike hard against Hamas and Fatah in Gaza, PA sympathizers in Syria, Iraq, and Iran are just waiting to be at Israel’s doorstep. I read that ISIS is already in Gaza.
Our own president finally opens his mouth and sympathizes with the parents of the boys, but asks for restraint from Israel. How dare he ask the Israelis to hold back their fury! It is time to wipe out terror and all those who applaud it.
On Sunday night, I attended the gathering at the YI of Kew Gardens Hills and heard Rabbi Paysach Krohn say that Bilam was killed by the sword because that was his weapon. Hashem instructed Klal Yisrael to kill him by his own weapon. And our enemies today also understand only the sword. Death and destruction, kidnappings, bombings, and missiles are their weapons. Kill them with their own weapons. No mercy! We sit on the brink of war, but it is a war that must be fought and must be won.
During these days of tefillah for the boys, aside from singing Acheinu, I preferred to say Tehillim, kapitel 102, Tefilla L’ani—“Hashem, don’t hide Your face from me on the day of my distress.” If you Google “girls singing Tefilla L’ani” you will see a YouTube video of the girls of Nevei Dekalim singing in their shul just before the evacuation from Gush Katif. Watch their faces, their anguish, their tears. It was heartbreaking then and it moves me to tears now. So when I wanted to feel deeply for our boys and their families, I watched the video, over and over again. And this is my tefillah now. Hashem, please don’t hide Yourself from Klal Yisrael. We are in danger and we live in perilous times. We need You to give us strength and keep us united to fight our enemies. May Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali be melitzei yosher for Klal Yisrael to be victorious over our enemies and iy’H bring the geulah shleimah!
Rally and ribbon-cutting at new Chazaq office. On Sunday afternoon, June 29, Chazaq held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate its new office, combined with a rally with many elected officials. Local rabbanim and community members attended as well as members of the press. People carried signs that stated “Bring Our Boys Home” and that included photographs of the kidnapped boys who, we learned to our devastation on Monday, were murdered.
Yaniv Meirov greeted the crowd. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Yaniv’s wife Leora cut the ribbon in front of the new Chazaq office on Jewel Avenue.
Borough President Katz praised the Chazaq organization for all it does to bring young people to the right path and all the programs it provides for teenagers and the community. She mentioned the irony of celebrating this organization, which does so much for young people, at the same time that we are rallying for support from the government to help bring back the three kidnapped children, now murdered. Katz stated that we are here speaking in Queens because the rest of the world is not speaking loudly enough. She expressed her pride in this borough.
Next, Congresswoman Meng praised the work of Chazaq. She noted that she had brought her young son to the rally and explained to him how these boys were kidnapped. She declared her absolute support of Israel. She announced that Yaniv Meirov is now a member of Queens Board #6. She imparted that we want the world to know from the streets of Queens to the halls of Congress that we stand with Israel. She met with Gilad’s aunt in Washington. This incident, Congresswoman Meng acknowledged, is a parent’s worst nightmare. This gathering is sending a signal that we stand with Israel.
Next, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz shouted our message: Bring our boys home. This message needed to be delivered. We needed it to come from the White House. He said to bring this message to the president, the State Department, and our United States senators. The silence is deafening. The parents flew to Geneva at their own expense to be greeted by the United Nations condemning Israel. What parent would not go to every means to rescue his child?
Following this powerful speech, Assemblyman David Weprin praised Chazaq’s work with young people in our community. “Where is the outcry from the world—from our country? One boy was a United States citizen. We have to speak out. We need more events like this.”
Next, Councilman Rory Lancman spoke briefly. He noted that his own 17-year-old son is in Israel and he spoke to him about staying safe. The next three speakers were three community members who recently traveled to Israel with Governor Mike Huckabee and met with the parents of the three boys.
Dr. Joe Frager shared insights about the courage and heroism of the families and the State of Israel. He noted the force of unity evident in Israel due to this tragedy. He also mentioned the fact that President Obama has not spoken out about the kidnapping. (He can no longer speak out about the kidnapping; it is too late. We now know that they are no longer alive. And Naftali Frenkel was an American citizen and deserved protection.)
A letter was read by Dr. Paul Brody from the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, Danny Danon. It stated that the government of Israel knows which Hamas terrorists are responsible, and it was leaving no stone unturned. All of Israel are responsible for one another. As Americans, we are uniquely positioned. Contact U.S. senators and representatives. They should send a clear message to the Palestinians that the United States cannot work with them when justice is not done for these three boys.
The rally and ribbon-cutting ceremony ended with a reception inside the Chazaq office.
Facing adversity with emunah. On Tuesday, July 8 at 8:00 p.m. Rebbetzin Nechama Karlinsky from Eyaht Seminary in Yerushalayim is scheduled to give a communitywide shiur for women at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel. This is sponsored anonymously for the refuah and yeshuah of our at-risk kids in pain.
To Bernie and Joel Shafran on the petirah of their mother.
Mazal Tov . . .
To the Kanowitz and Linn families on the engagement of their children. v
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.