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Israeli Mothers In Den Of Wolves And Hyenas

The mothers of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, the three abducted teenagers, travelled to the UNHRC in Geneva this week, where Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali, passionately implored the international community to put greater pressure on those responsible.

These brave women waged a desperate attempt to explain to the world that Palestinian terrorists kidnapped not soldiers or militants, but young students - a criminal act which blatantly violates every human rights law. 

It was shockingly horrific to watch UN representative after representative mock these poor mothers who had just poured out their hearts and souls.

One after the next, representatives from Syria, Iran, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, China, Cuba, and of course the Palestinian representative, attacked the three Israeli women and accused Israel of every possible - and impossible - crime against the Arab and Palestinian people. They accused Israel of being the biggest human rights violator in the world.

The Palestinian spokesperson screamed, "Why did the Israeli women come? Is there no room in Geneva for the 5,000 mothers of Palestinians?" Is she saying Israel kidnapped or murdered 5,000 young Palestinian students? When and where did this happen? As we know, those inciting against Israel don't let facts stand in their way.

In fact, they had the audacity to blame the kidnapping on Israel(!) because Israel has been "occupying" their land since 1948. What a ludicrous and dishonest portrayal! But it is certainly nothing new. For 60 years the Arab world has been calling us thieves, claiming we stole their land and built our country on Islamic soil.

Well, let me tell you something, dear UN. Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were kidnapped near  Chevron area  and  the IDF search has focused mainly on the Chevron area. My father is an 8th generation Yerushalmi, and his great-grandmother Chaya Bluma Rikel lived in Chevron in 1929. My family is descended from Menucha Rochel Slonim, the Alter Rebbe's granddaughter, who immigrated to Israel and settled in Chevron in 1845.

So long before Israel declared independence and was accused of "infringing on the rights of the poor Palestinian refugees," long before the IDF was even established, my family was living in Chevron, and here's what happened:

On August 24, 1929, local Arabs went on a murderous rampage, butchering and massacring Jews, ransacking homes and synagogues. At the time, 20,000 people were living in Chevron, only 700 of whom were Jews. By the time the massacre ended, 67 Jews lay dead - their homes and synagogues destroyed. Why were they murdered? Simply for being Jews.

Chaya Bluma Rikel's first cousin was Rabbi Dov Slonim, who was extremely well connected and friendly with the Arab leaders. He sheltered about 30 Jews in his home that day, because he'd been promised many times he would never be harmed by the Arabs. But on that fateful morning he, and all the Jews with him, were brutally murdered. Why? Simply for being Jewish! 

Following the horrific massacre, the Jews were forced to leave Chevron, until in 1967 G-d performed a tremendous miracle and returned Chevron to the Jews. At that time, the Arabs were sure the returning Jews would try to take revenge for the massacre, but no. The Jews, who the UN claims are the biggest human rights abusers, let their Arab neighbors live in peace. In fact, they have more rights there than their Arab brothers in most other places.

In 1929 while my family was slaughtered, the British stood idly by. And nothing has changed. Terrorists from Chevron have kidnapped our boys and the world stands idly by. So no, we will not "show restraint." We will do whatever is necessary to bring back our boys.

We know this land is our land. The only reason Jews travelled perilously from Odessa, Vilna, Warsaw etc. to the land of Israel is because G-d gave His holy land to us, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is stated clearly in the Torah.

We know we'll persevere, we know we'll survive. The tremendous outpouring of unity, love and concern from Jews worldwide proves that nothing can destroy us.

#Bringbackourboys now! May Eyal, Naftali and Gilad be reunited with their families and all of Am Yisrael, immediately!

Eyal, Gilad & Naftali We Are With You

Screen-Shot-2014-06-18-at-11.11.36-AM.pngIt's been a full week since our boys - Eyal (19), Gilad (16) and Naftali (16) - were abducted by Hamas terrorists from a bus stop on their way home for Shabbat. 

Our dear friend Ban Ki Moon (secretary general of the UN) has the audacity to say he has no evidence the boys were kidnapped, and the rest of the world has been largely silent. Even the US is telling Israel to show restraint. 

The global Jewish community, however, has banded together, united in outrage, courage and prayer. We feel the pain of the teens and their families intimately. Their agony is our agony, their loss our loss. 

I watched Iris Yifrach, Eyal's mother, speak at a press conference on national television. What would her message be, I wondered. She is suffering unimaginably. Her son, who she has loved, cared for, and raised for 19 years has been snatched by cruel, despicable terrorists, and she has no idea where he is or what he's going through. This is every mother's nightmare, a torturous reality. How would she have the courage to speak? I was certain she would not be able to utter a sound. 

But when I watched, I was astounded to see her strength and determination. Despite the pain in her heart and the worry in her eyes, despite the crushing agony and palpable distress, she was not broken down. She appeared strong and composed, and I was able to draw strength from her. 

"Our Jewish people, we love you with all our hearts. I'm begging from the bottom of my heart, continue to pray! 

"Our Eyali, we love you! The Jewish world is praying for you. Look what a beautiful people! Give a strong hug to Gilad and Naftali. 

"Thanks so much to everyone." 

Over the past week, Jews worldwide have stormed the heavens with prayer, beseeching G-d to return the boys safe and sound. Chabad started a mitzvah campaign and so far 3,364 people have pledged a mitzvah in the merit of their safe return. 

G-d willing, they will be found safe and sound, very soon. 

This week's Torah portion conveys the importance of prayer. Korach led an open mutiny against Moses. He was strong, intelligent and charismatic, and managed to persuade hundreds of people to join his rebellion. 

When he challenged Moses' leadership, Moses had to tell G-d not to listen. But why? Surely G-d would not listen to an evil person like Korach. 

But our sages explain that if Korach prayed from the depths of his heart, it would be difficult for G-d not to listen, because He listens to all prayers, even those of evil people. 

The power of prayer is immense. 

If we all unite in heartfelt prayer, surely G-d will have no choice but to listen to us! 

Over the weekend, the families of the three boys will be given the list of all the mitzvot people have committed to. If you haven't yet signed up, please do so now. It will give them tremendous encouragement and support. 

Am yisrael chai! May our collective prayers be answered, fully and speedily.

My Deepest Regret

When I was 14, my classmates organized a trip to New York to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe, leader of the Chabad movement. Living in Johannesburg, South Africa, with two Israeli parents, I'd been on several family trips to Israel, but never to New York.

For two years we'd been discussing this trip, and figuring out the best time to go. Unfortunately, on March 2, 1992, the Rebbe suffered a stroke and became unable to speak. Until now, the Rebbe had been giving public, in-depth Torah talks to thousands of people on a regular basis. On Sundays the Rebbe stood for hours handing out dollars and giving blessings to scores of people, some of whom had travelled thousands of miles to be there. The giving of the dollars was to encourage people to give money to charity. People would keep the dollar from the Rebbe, and in its place give a dollar (or more) to charity. The Rebbe also met with individuals one-on-one, late into the nights, to give guidance and blessings.

But after the Rebbe's stroke in March 1992, all this stopped, and we found ourselves divided. Half the group wanted to postpone our trip to New York until the Rebbe had recovered and resumed giving dollars and blessings. The other half felt we should travel immediately, regardless. At the time, Rabbi Shalom Ber Groner, one of South Africa's senior Chabad rabbis, said, "A chassid doesn't wait. When he has the opportunity to see the Rebbe, he goes."

I was part of the group that decided to wait for the Rebbe's recovery so that we could see more of the Rebbe. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity, because the Rebbe remained unable to speak until his passing two years later on the 3rd of Tammuz 5754, June 12, 1994.

Ultimately, the first time I visited New York was one year later, on the Rebbe's first yahrtzeit. My deepest regret in life is that I never saw the Rebbe. I strongly regret not taking that trip, because I missed out on meeting the person who has shaped my life, my community, and much of world Jewry over the past century.

But even though I never saw the Rebbe, my entire life has been influenced by the Rebbe. It was the Rebbe's vision to send Chabad families, as emissaries, to communities all over the world, to help instigate and revitalize Jewish life, even in the most remote, far-flung areas. The Rebbe believed that each Jew was of equal importance, and fired up his chassidim with a mission - find every Jew and love them. Teach them the beauty of the Torah and the power of a single mitzvah.

Our Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side would not exist if not for the Rebbe's global vision. My father is also one of the Rebbe's emissaries and has been doing the Rebbe's work in Johannesburg for the last 40 years. Most of my siblings are Chabad emissaries. My parents-in-law and my wife's siblings are all emissaries across the globe. It was my dream and passion to become part of the Rebbe’s global army by becoming one of his emissaries. 

On July 1, 2014, we'll be marking 20 years since the Rebbe's passing. And although the Rebbe is no longer physically present, his teachings and guidance continue to lead the Chabad movement globally.

Over the last 20 years, Chabad has grown exponentially. There are currently 4,000 Chabad centers worldwide, and Chabad is considered the largest Jewish organization by far. Joseph Telushkin has just published a book entitled, "The Rebbe: the most influential rabbi in modern history," which is already high on the best seller list before it has even been released!

A few weeks ago I visited the Rebbe's resting place in Queens, with our Belev Echad wounded soldiers. I invited the Rebbe's personal secretary, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, to come with us and offer some words of encouragement to our brave heroes. After meeting these soldiers, who have sacrificed so much for their country and their people, Rabbi Krinsky was so moved he decided to give them a very unique gift.

In 1990, in honor of Lag BaOmer, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Krinsky to print special coins to be given out at the parade. They had to rush the order, but the coins were ready in time and the Rebbe handed them out to the chassidim. Rabbi Krinsky still had some of the extra coins, and he decided to give them to our delegation. The soldiers and I felt honored to have received a precious memento from the Rebbe, 20 years after his passing. I felt as if I was getting a precious coin from the Rebbe with all the blessings that it entails, something that I missed out on when the Rebbe was physically alive.

We know that a righteous person lives on. Only the physical body leaves, but the Rebbe continues to be with us, giving us blessings and strength to continue carrying out his holy mission.

As we mark the Rebbe's 20th yahrtzeit, this is the time to commit, or recommit, to his primary teachings - love every Jew unconditionally, and welcome Moshiach with acts of goodness and kindness.

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