Thursday, July 3, 2014


As we celebrate the 4th of July, we must never forget.

Comments by Steven B. Nasatir
JUF Community Memorial for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach
July 2, 2014

"A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

Today we recall these words of Jeremiah as we mourn our three sons, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali who are no more. 

We come together as mishpacha, a Jewish family, to grieve for three precious children who loved life. These boys were committed to their studies in yeshiva, enjoyed sports and music, cared about others, loved their country Israel and lived Jewish lives.

For 18 days they were our very own children. What happened to them is every parent’s worst nightmare. I was in Israel last week. The whole country was hoping and praying Eyal, Gilad and Naftali would return. We did the same thing here in Chicago when we held our vigil at the Thompson Center.

Our hearts are so heavy and broken today. Our grief is intensified because we’ve been here before.

That is our 21st century reality,-- from Brussels; to Toulouse; from Overland Park, Kansas; to Buenos Aires.

Across the bright light of Jewish sovereignty and freedom the shadows of terror fall too often.

I remember going to the Israeli town of Ma’alot in 1974 immediately after terrorists killed 22 children in their elementary school. I saw the gaping holes in the walls from the bullets and grenades.  The children were gone.

I remember recoiling in horror after the bombing of teenagers at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv, and after the bombing of families at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.

We all remember too many attacks on too many Jewish children.

After 66 years of Israel’s statehood, our people still face the scourge of hatred and terror.

It will never deter us. It could not deter Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal or any of Israel’s youth from living vibrant lives filled with joy and hope.

Nor will it deter Israel, a country bursting with life, love, energy and achievement. 

These boys, like all who have been murdered by terrorists, were slain by those who hate the Jewish people with an ancient hatred and a renewed contempt for Jewish sovereignty.

We cry out against terrorism as Jews and as Americans.

July 4th  is two days away. On that joyous holiday, we celebrate freedom, rule of law, diversity, pluralism—all the great virtues of America.

As we watch the fireworks, let us remember our three boys and recall the poetic words of Hannah Senesh, a young Jewish hero murdered by the Nazis.
In one poem she wrote:

There are stars whose light reaches earth
Only as they themselves are lost and are no more.
There are people whose radiance illuminate their memories
When they themselves are no longer in our midst.
These lights – which shine in the darkest night –
light the way for humanity.

Yehi Zichron  Baruch. May the memories of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali be blessed, and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem"
Thank you, Steve.




paul jeser said...

My 'selection' for celebrating July 4th:


Paul Robeson with the Americans Peoples Chorus. The Victor Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nathaniel Shilkret. Recorded in 1940

Anonymous said...

Lovely choice Paul-a ballad of patriotism thru inclusivity produced on the eve of the second world war (and performed that year at both the Republican and Communist (!) Party conventions). Mirrors in humble sentiment some of the humanist Zionist poetry of the period by the likes of Chana Senesh and Tzernichovsky ("laugh, laugh at my dreams as I believe in humanity...")