By COLlive reporter
Photos/Video: Itzik Roytman/COLlive
With candles in their hands and hope in their hearts, residents of Brooklyn united in prayer for the safe return of three Jewish teens who were abducted by Arab terrorists.
Elected officials, community activists and residents expressed their concern over the fate of Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who have been missing since Thursday.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said the kidnapping of children is “off limits.” She said, “This is not a Jewish issue. This is a human rights issue. We need to send a message that we cannot allow terrorist forces to threaten the safety of children anywhere in the world.”
The yeshiva students were last seen at a hitchhiking post near Gush Etzion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas for kidnapping the teens and said he was holding the Palestinian Authority responsible.
At the gathering on Tuesday evening on Eastern Parkway, in front of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights, banners were held up to promote the social media hashtag #BringBackOurBoys to raise awareness and support Israel’s efforts.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who organized the event, said: “Children should never be used as political tools. If they would kidnap boys in Tel Aviv or any other place in Israel, they would do it in Iowa too.”
Before the event, Adams told COLlive.com: “I believe that the Israeli government is pursuing the matter aggressively and I think the United States should take a very active role to insure that these children return home safely.”
After a prayer by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis, candles were lit and Tehillim and Oseh Shalom was sung by Mendel Shagalov, expressing a united hope for true peace in the region.
Among the speakers were Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, Zaki Tamir, Eli Cohen and Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Michael Miller of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Devorah Halberstam of the Jewish Children’s Museum, Eli Slavin representing Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.
International lecturer David Nessenof, known for exposing the anti Semitic views of veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, received the most applause, as his message resonated with the crowd of Chabad Chassidim.
“We are standing here footsteps away from where the Rebbe walked,” he said, referring to Lubavitch World Headquarters nearby at 770 Eastern Parkway.
“We have to learn from the Rebbe – fight darkness with light. Get people to put on Tefillin, the women to light Shabbos candles. We fight anti-Jewish by doing Jewish,” he said.
Or, as one resident commented, “the same way we expect the Israeli security forces to do all that they can to bring the boys back, we should be doing the same – in the spiritual sense.”