Comments by Steven B. NasatirJUF Community Memorial for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal YifrachJuly 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.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:
Thank you, Steve.
There are stars whose light reaches earthOnly as they themselves are lost and are no more.There are people whose radiance illuminate their memoriesWhen 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"