Wednesday, January 23rd | 17 Shevat 5779

March 19, 2011 4:21 pm

As Humanity Mourns

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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As the week of shiva for the Fogel Family – brutally murdered on Shabbat, March 11 – concluded, almost a thousand gathered in unity at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to express communal horror at the slaying of innocents .  “Zahor“ called out Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, senior rabbi of the congregation.  He called for determinations to stand strong in the face of a modern day Amalek: “Never forget.  We have a pledge to fulfill.”

The full sanctuary was silent as five young men and women lit tall white candles in memory of those even younger slain by the hand of hate.  As the flames glowed, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, addressed the congregation saying “I did it for me.  I needed (this gathering) to come together to comfort, to strengthen, to mourn…a barbarian evil of a level of depravity comparable to the worst of the Nazi hoards.”  “The attack on the Fogel family,” he continued “is an attack on Israel fostered by the continuous incitement of leaders and officials’ ideological indoctrination of hate…Governments must take action against incitement and must be deemed accountable for its consequences.”  Referring a text written by Rabbi Lookstein, Were We Our Brother’s Keeper?, Hoenlein sadly concluded “how little the world has learned.”

We will not be silenced – never again is a “meaningful declaration.  Taking the lesson of 70 years ago, we must look back in order to look forward.  …we will not be silent.”  Meron Reuben, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations expressed “outrage at the heinous crime …a brutal murder with unbounded hate.” He demanded a time for moral clarity” announcing that he had addressed a letter to the United Nations demanding that the leaders of the Palestinian Authority “speak with one voice” and address the root cause of violence.  “We must see an end to incitement…We have lost five pearls,” whose memory “is to be carried on through the Jewish people.”

Shlomi Kofman, Deputy Counsel General of Israel in New York spoke of his emotions as he shared a Shabbat meal with his own children shortly after hearing of the tragedy in Itamar.  “No Israeli should fear for his life regardless of where he chooses to live …there is no explanation, no justification, for the ongoing incitement of hatred.”

Reverend Jacques DeGraff, Pastor, the Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, brought words of strength from his congregation: “Your pain is our pain. We stand with you to speak out against injustice…Call on us,” said the Pastor. “We shall never forget and we shall overcome.”

With concluding words that were both a prayer and a direction, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein called for the Palestinian people to “raise a generation that is ready for peace as we are.”

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and students of the Ramaz Upper School lighting memorial candles for Udi (36), Ruth (35), Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months) Fogel.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents addressing the gathering.

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