This article appeared in the June 27, 2014 Jewish Advocate.

Community rallies to show support for kidnapped Israeli teens

By Susie Davidson

Special to the Advocate


Security was tight at a June 19 event organized in Brookline to call for the safe return of three kidnapped Israeli youths.

One week after the June 12 disappearance of three teenage Israeli boys, GreaterBoston’s Jewish community gathered for a vigil the evening of June 19 at Congregation Kehillath Israelin Brookline.

I thought it was important to pray for our boys in a community gathering,” said Joyce The Voice (whose given name is Joyce Gail Rokeach), a radio host and a teacher in the Medfordschools. “We are taught that in times of trouble, we should come together to pray and beg G-d for his mercy.”

Handouts at the event urged attendees to take to social media, by tweeting comments from speakers, sharing images from Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ (CJP) Facebook page, signing the Jewish Federations of North America’s letter to the boys’ parents and keeping abreast of the news. They were also encouraged to follow @CJPIsrael, the organization’s Twitter account.

The assembled sang “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem and chanted a special prayer for the kidnapped teens. Excerpts from Psalms Chapters 121 and 130, which deal with watchful waiting, asking for help, hope, mercy and redemption were also distributed.

These three young men are our children, too, and we feel the fear that their families feel,” said attendee Janet Stein, president of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston. “ Tonight’s vigil is one way to help get the word out. It is important to band together to pray for their safe and quick return.”

The Boston Jewish community, she continued, “is very strong, and in times of stress and worry we come together in support of the people in harm’s way, their families, and in support of each other. We prayed tonight that all three boys are safely and quickly returned to their loved ones, and we will continue to pray for them.”

Since Israeli security forces launched Operation Brother’s Keeper the day after Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel disappeared following their afterschool hitchhiking in the West Bank, 280 Palestinians had been detained. Hitchhiking is a common mode of transportation in Israel.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the IDF, Shin Bet, police and border police have been part of the rescue effort, but as of the Brookline vigil, there was no sign of life, nor any demands from kidnappers.

Other speakers at the event included the KehillathIsrael’s rabbi, William Hamilton, Israeli Consul General to New England Yehuda Yakov, Rabbi Elaine Zecher of Temple Israel in Boston, CJP President Barry Schrage, Rabbi Benjamin Samuels of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah and Jill Goldenberg of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston ( JCRC).

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Consulate General of Israel to New England, Israel-American Council, JCRC, and Kehillath Israel joined CJP in calling for the safe return of the boys. “Boston’s Jewish community stands with Israel; it always has and it always will,” CJP President Barry Shrage said after the event. “A crime committed against Israel’s children touches our community deeply.”