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Memorial Service for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali
Twelve hundred community members of all ages gathered together on July 1st at a community-wide memorial service at Congregation B'nai Israel in Rockville to honor the lives of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel who were kidnapped and murdered. The service was organized by the JCRC and Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. The Israel Action Center's Director, Noa Meir related her connection to the boys as an Israeli and an American.
Rabbi Michael Safra of B'nai Israel told the crowd, the memorial service was held for those who wished to gather "for the sacred task of remembering, grieving and standing together. We are Jews and when one Jew suffers, all Jews suffer."
Rabbi Uri Topolosky of Beth Joshua Congregation led the mourners in a prayer for the State of Israel and Cantor Josh Perlman of B'nai Israel sang a version of El Maleh Rachamim dedicated to Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali.
The JCRC's President, Cookie Hymer Blitz said, "No parent should have to bury their child. The killings "must be condemned by all people. Our community is channeling our sorrow and anger to unity."
Jewish Federation of Greater Washington President Liza Levy, said, "Our prayers and yellow ribbons didn't work to bring the boys back. Broken hearts may have brought us closer, but we are not na´ve." Her message to everyone asked for support the families of the dead boys when others will not.
Reuven Azar, deputy head of mission at the Israeli embassy also spoke. He said, "We don't forget our values. We don't forget to sanctify life. Our unity and our belief keep us strong."
Rev. Lynn Strauss, of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, representing the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Board, told the crowd, "I bring prayers of compassion. No house of worship should suffer alone. We grieve together. Our hearts are broken alongside yours."
More than a dozen rabbis who were present at the service joined Rabbi Safra on the bima to lead the congregation in saying kaddish for the murdered boys. The memorial concluded with the community singing Hatikvah, a message of hope.
The memorial service would not be possible without the dedication of so many organizations and synagogues in our community. It is a testament to the community that we can come together in times of celebration, and more importantly, lean on one another in times of sorrow. Thank you to the Orthodox Union for supporting the service, and thank you to the following community organizations and synagogues for co-sponsoring: Our host B'nai Israel Congregation, AJC, Gather the Jews, Israel House in Washington DC, Jewish Federations of North America, New Israel Fund, Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, The Israel Forever Foundation, The Israel Project, Tzofim Israel, Adas Israel Congregation, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue, Congregation Beit Chaverim, Congregation Beth El, Congregation Beth Emeth, Congregation Beth Joshua, Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah, Congregation B'nai Shalom of Olney, Congregation B'nai Tzedek, Congregation Har Shalom, Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim, Hevrat Shalom Congregation, Kemp Mill Synagogue, Magen David Sephardic Congregation, Ohr Kodesh Congregation, Congregation Sha'are Shalom, Shaare Torah, Temple Beth Ami, Temple Shalom, Temple Sinai, Tifereth Israel Congregation, and Tikvat Israel Congregation.