Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil outside the Embassy of Israel on Wednesday to mourn the deaths of Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Sha’ar and to express solidarity with their families. Jewish community leaders including Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner signed a condolence book. Speakers alongside Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner included the Orthodox Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub.
Here is the full text of Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner’s speech:
I’ll be in Israel tomorrow.
I’ll be with friends and family and will take with me our empathy, and heartbreak over the murders of these teenagers – who were the same age as our youngest child – also an Israeli – born in Jerusalem. Like every other Israeli, these past two weeks, I’ve had my heart in my mouth, I’ve been thinking, “oh this could be my children”.
Tonight we come here to be together in a parallel, long distance shiva because when we say, “כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה”, all Israel are responsible for each other – it’s not just prescriptive, they way it should be, but descriptive – it’s the way it is. We are responsible for each other, we identify deeply with each other, we’re extended networks of families and communities – we depend on each other. Tonight, we couldn’t just stay home, we had to join each other in this mourning space – this long distance shiva. We can weep for these young boys and for many other children, Jewish and not Jewish, who’ve been caught up in this conflict. We try and comfort from far away, as we read in Lamentations, Eicha:
“I’m weeping for all of this; I’m in floods of tears, because those who could comfort me are far away from me.”
עַל־אֵלֶּה | אֲנִי בוֹכִיָּה עֵינִי | עֵינִי יֹרְדָה מַּיִם כִּי־רָחַק מִמֶּנִּי מְנַחֵם מֵשִׁיב נַפְשִׁי
We’re trying to be comforters and looking for those who will give us נחמה comfort, comfort that will restore our souls מֵשִׁיב נַפְשׁינו.
At a shiva, people talk about memories of those who died, you see tears – anger – even humour. What are my friends and family in Israel saying to me from their national shiva? “These are dark times” someone said this morning in Jerusalem. Today, the Frenkel family condemned violence: “there is no difference between blood and blood; murder is murder, whatever nationality or age.”
One rabbinic friend reminded me of a piece in the Jerusalem Talmud in which Rabbi Akiva warns against vengeance, he explains that vengeance is like one hand of the same body wounding another. Humanity is one, by vengeance, we damage ourselves.
Exactly a week ago, I met Eyal’s brother, Asaf in London – I said, “אנחנו אתכם ” – we’re with you. We are – whether in London, in Britain or throughout the world. אנחנו אתכם We’re with you and we always will be.
May the future bring us נחמה – comfort and consolation. And let us say “כן יהיה רצון” May this be God’s will – Amen.