Office of the Chief Rabbi

Pause for Thought: Transform hatred into love

As we are forced to bear the terrible news that the three boys kidnapped in Israel – Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – were murdered by their abductors, the Chief Rabbi praises the unity and compassion of those who have rallied to support the boys’ families. We must maintain and spread this harmony in order to move forward, he advises. A transcript appears below.

“Ever since Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, three Israeli teenagers, were kidnapped 18 days ago, some remarkable things have happened.

A tidal wave of sympathy and prayer swept across the globe. Men, women and children showed deep solidarity with the call to “bring our boys back.” Here in the UK thousands poured out their hearts, identifying with the three innocent teenagers, their families, teachers and friends.

Soon after news emerged of the abduction, I called for an impromptu service of prayer. Just over two weeks’ ago, on a Sunday evening, within less than five hours, more than one thousand people joined together in London to recite psalms and to sing emotionally-charged supplications.

‘Men, women and children showed deep solidarity with the call to “bring our boys back.”’

Similar prayer rallies throughout the world, and most particularly, of course, in Israel, brought together religious and secular Jews in an extraordinary show of unity and they were joined by people of other faiths in spirit, as we hoped against hope that the boys would return home alive and well to their dear ones.

This momentum reached its crescendo two nights’ ago, when a massive solidarity rally of tens of thousands of people was held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Who could not have been deeply inspired to hear the three boys’ mothers’ eloquent, heart rendering and dignified speeches?

Turning to the crowd, Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali. said, “This is an assembly of love and of unity.”

Gilad’s mother, Bat Galim Shaer, addressed her son: “People have come together to pray for your return and when you come back you will find that our family has expanded greatly – you have brothers and sisters all over Israel and the world.”

Iris, Eyal Yifrach’s mother, spoke to her son from the stage: “We want you back already,” she said, “We are waiting to embrace you with warmth.”

Tragically, that will now not happen. But the warmth and glow of immense love, friendship and solidarity will continue to be with us.

As we now try to absorb the horrific reality of the brutal murder of the boys, our challenge is to transform hatred into love and to show that only unity and harmony amongst different peoples on both sides of the conflict can take us forward in a meaningful and constructive way.

In the midst of deep grief may God guide us along the route of hope, to the stability and security which will underpin the right of innocent men, women and children, to live their lives in peace.”

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