From community prayer vigils and Psalms offered at synagogue services, to letters written to the mothers of three kidnapped Israeli teens, Middlesex’s Jewish community is keeping the boys in their hearts and thoughts.
The largest event took place the evening of June 17 when about 500 community members, including a number of youngsters, gathered at Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison.
Psalms were recited following evening services for the youths — Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. They were last seen on June 12 hitchhiking near Gush Etzion, a Jewish settlement bloc in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnapping.
“It was so appropriate to have children praying for the release of kidnapped children,” said RPRY principal Rabbi Shraga Gross. “They were pouring out their hearts and praying for the release of these children to be brought home to their families and loved ones.”
He described the event, which featured a number of local rabbis as “a gathering of solidarity representing the full spectrum of our community pouring out their hearts as a part of a worldwide Tehillim event.”
Psalms, or Tehillim, will continue to be recited by RPRY students.
“Even during summer break our children have accepted upon themselves praying for their brother Jews until they are brought home to their families,” said Gross, who said many synagogues are also continuing to recite Psalms.
Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick has been offering prayers for the boy’s safe return, said its senior rabbi, Bennett Miller.
“Three innocent young men have been abducted for political purposes by forces that want to ensure that there will never be peace,” said Bennett, who is also national chair of ARZA, the Zionist arm of the Reform movement. “Our hope is that wiser heads will prevail, so this thing doesn’t get blown out of proportion and set off a firestorm that can’t be contained.”
Miller said many in the community see the three boys “as our own young men, and we join with everyone in the Jewish community in praying they will be returned safely.”
Their abduction has also led Women of the Wall, the feminist group, to postpone the reading of a Torah scroll at the Western Wall on June 29, said Miller. The Torateinu ARZA scroll had been read at 50 Reform synagogues across the United States and Canada, including Anshe Emeth, as a gesture of solidarity with Women of the Wall. Miller said the decision was made because it was felt that it was not “an appropriate time to deal with internal Jewish politics.”
Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick has been publicizing the plight of the three teens on its website, announcing their names and reading Psalm 21 at every service, said Cantor Bruce Rockman.
About 100 youngsters from the Gan Israel Day Camp, run by Chabad of Central New Jersey in Piscataway, were brought to Chabad House at Rutgers on the New Brunswick campus June 27 for a “Torah, Tefilla, Tzedaka” program. The campers studied, prayed, performed good deeds, and wrote letters to the mothers of the captured teens. Rutgers Chabad executive director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach said the letters will be delivered through his organization’s office in Israel in the coming week.
In addition, he said, “Last week tens of thousands of women lit candles for Shabbat in honor of these children” at the urging of Rutgers Chabad and others.