By COLlive reporter
A group of 27 Chabad Rabbis has traveled to Israel to bring hope, strength, and unity to the people of Israel following the massacre by Hamas on Simchas Torah, who murdered 1,400 people and captured over 222 hostages in the most brutal attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust.
The group of Shluchim who lead communities throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia headed out Sunday on a solidarity mission with the holy land, following in the tradition of the Rebbe, who sent Shluchim to Eretz Yisroel after the tragic terror attack in Kfar Chabad many years ago.
The trip, bringing the first official Rabbinical group to Israel since the attack, was coordinated by Rabbi David Eliezrie – Senior Shliach in Orange County, California, Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf – Executive Director of Chabad Educational Center Chicago, and Rabbi Yossi Biston – Director of Chabad of Parkland, Florida. It is being coordinated in Israel by Chabad of Israel Emergency National Response Center, part of Tzeirei Agudas Chabad, headed by Rabbi Yosef Aharonov, with the assistance of Fleischman Peles Productions.
On Monday, the Shluchim began their trip with a visit to the families in mourning after the Kfar Aza attack. Kfar Aza, a kibbutz about 1.9 mi from the border of Gaza, was attacked by 70 terrorists in the attack which took place on Simchas Torah.
“So far, the small community held funerals and is sitting shiva for 52 friends and family, from babies and children to Holocaust survivors. They are praying for another 13 who are either kidnapped to Gaza or missing,” said Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, Director of Chabad of Naples, Florida.
The Kfar Aza residents are sitting Shiva at Kibbutz Shefayim in Central Israel, clustered in groups, sitting in circles, surrounded by friends and loved ones for support.
The visiting Shluchim sat with the families of the victims, and one group after another shared their stories, of tragedy, terror, and loss.
“We heard about one woman who survived for over 30 hours in a concrete bunker, another woman described how she was in a bunker until finally IDF soldiers broke into her house, and she was escorted out surrounded by soldiers as there were terrorists in her home, and a firefight with them broke out immediately after she escaped,” Rabbi David Eliezrie told COLlive. “It was just heartbreaking to hear all of these stories of loss, pain, and tragedy.”
VIDEO: Brother of victim tells of the light seen in the face of the horrific massacre
One of the individuals who the Shluchim met who has lost a loved one said, “Your responsibility is not just to come here to share in our grief and our pain, but it is to bring us Chizuk – encouragement and inspiration.”
The three-day trip continues today and will include a service at the Kotel with the Chief Rabbi of Israel, a visit to the South and North to encourage the IDF soldiers on the frontlines and the communities under attack, and a visit to the wounded in hospitals.
“We are coming with a message of Chizuk, and to declare that the Jews of the Diaspora are standing together with the people of Israel,” said Rabbi Eliezrie. “We are bringing a message of confidence and optimism in this difficult time.”
Shluchim on the solidarity mission include: Rabbi Daniel Fordham – Beth El Jewish Center of Flatbush, Rabbi Yisroel Spalter – Weston, FL, Rabbi Hertzel Peer – Chabad Persian Youth, Rabbi Fishel Zaklos – Chabad Naples, Florida, Rabbi Moshe Gourarie – Chabad Toms River, New Jersey, Rabbi Yanky Zuker – Chabad of Key West, Florida, Rabbi Menachem Block – Chabad of Plano, TX, Rabbi David Eliezrie – Orange County, CA, Rabbi Michael Rav-Noy – Friendship Circle of Los Angeles, Rabbi Chaim Hanoka – Chabad of Pasadena, CA, Rabbi Choni Marozov – Chabad Santa Clarita, California, Rabbi Moshe Bryski – Chabad of Conejo Valley, CA, Rabbi Chaim Mentz – Bel Air, California, Rabbi Zalman Bukiet – Chabad Boca Raton, FL, Rabbi Yossie Nemes – Chabad Metairie, New Orleans, Rabbi Dov Muchnik – Chabad of Oxnard, California, Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf – Chabad Educational Center Chicago, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Cadaner – Chabad Lubavitch of the Quad Cities, Iowa, Rabbi Ruvi New – Chabad of East Boca, Florida, Rabbi Schneur Z Kaplan – Downtown Jewish Center Chabad, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, Director Young Jewish Adults, Montreal Canada, Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz and Meir Simcha Minkowicz, Chabad of Eastern Florida, Rabbi Eli Goodman – Chabad of the Beaches, Long Island, Rabbi Mendy Deitsch – Chabad Arizona, Rabbi Eli Schlanger – Sydney, Australia and Rabbi Moshe Schapiro – Chabad of Hoboken, NJ.