Mourners at the Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany adopted Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar as “our boys” at a noontime memorial service July 2.
Funeral services in Israel for the three yeshiva students, whose bodies had been found northwest of Hebron 18 days after they were presumed kidnapped, were held the day before.
The Israeli government has blamed Hamas for their abduction and murders.
“May this gathering provide us with support to grieving families and unity to all of us,” said Nancy Kislin Flaum, a member of the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest and a resident of Millburn, leading off the half-hour ceremony.
Kislin then quoted from a letter sent by Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, president of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
“We stand together as one people, as one community, and that is why, although we never want to be ready, we are always ready to protect ourselves and our land,” Dannin Rosenthal wrote.
Rabbi Elliot Mathias, chair of the Israel and World Affairs Committee of the CRC and executive director of Hasbara Fellowships, told the audience “there is a time and place for political decisions and military responses. But,” he cautioned, “today is not to debate. It is not to question. Today is really a time for mourning, a time to remember, and a time to pray.”
Max Kleinman, CEO and executive vice president of the federation, said, “I sincerely hope that the message of the Jewish respect for the sanctity of life is transmitted through the Arab world, through the Christian world, and through the world of people who respect and revere one God, so that henceforth there will be much greater reverence for life in the days that lie ahead.”
“The murder of these boys is not a political issue,” said Andrew Gross, a representative of the Israeli consulate in New York. “It is not about land. It is not about settlements. It never was. It is about our children.”
Gross, political adviser to the deputy consul general, noted that a few hours before the ceremony, the mutilated body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was found in east Jerusalem. Gross said Israeli police “will clarify whether this was political or nationalistic. Either way, those responsible for this crime will be brought to justice.” This week, Israeli police arrested six Israeli Jews in the kidnapping and murder, three of whom confessed to the crime, Israeli media reported on Monday.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Cantor Perry Fine of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, Rabbi Mendel Solomon of Chabad at Short Hills, and Rabbi Scott Roland of Temple Hatikvah in Flanders.
Three rishonim, or young Israeli goodwill ambassadors at the Greater MetroWest federation, lit candles in memory of the three murdered students.