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June 29, 2012 10:49 am

Former Hamas Captive Shalit Stresses Return to Normalcy on NY Visit

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Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, points out a passage from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) to Gilad Shalit on Thursday. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

For Gilad Shalit, freedom means returning to a normal life.

Responding to a question from JNS.org at a gathering of American Jewish leaders in New York on Thursday, the former Hamas captive said he hopes to spend the next six years going to school and developing his career.

“You are our son, our grandson,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, told Shalit.

Shalit smiled quietly and responded to the outpouring of love and emotion that greeted him. Standing with Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York Shlomi Kofman, he offered thanks for the efforts made to gain his release, and confirmed that he was aware of “the prayers of millions” and the unflagging work of his parents and many others.

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Currently, Shalit is co-authoring a sports column with Yediot Achronot columnist Arik Henig.

Hoenlein presented Shalit with a 6-inch-thick volume containing “Letters to Gilad,” tens of thousands of messages sent to him during his captivity, and a volume of Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot). The latter volume, Hoenlein noted, contains the admonition that Jews assure the return of the captive.

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