The Rabbinical Assembly expresses its gratitude and support to the government of Israel in its tireless efforts to bring about the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit. After over five long, tortuous years in captivity, during which Hamas has flagrantly violated international human rights norms regarding Gilad Shalit’s visitation rights, we are extremely thankful that he has been returned to Israel and reunited with his family.
We stand with the people of Israel in their steadfast willingness to release over a thousand terrorists serving prison sentences for acts of terror that have taken the lives of many Israeli citizens. The courageous and loyal action on the part of Israel’s people is a beacon of the Jewish conviction that every life is of infinite value and a testament to Israel’s desire for peaceful existence where democratic society can continue to grow.
The RA has been vigilant in advocating for Sgt. Shalit’s release ever since his brazen abduction by Hamas on Sunday, June 25, 2006. Conservative synagogues throughout the world have included prayers for his release every Shabbat. Rabbis and other members of our Movement have met with officials from many governments and influential organizations demanding his release. Two RA resolutions (2010, 2007) have called on the international community to bring about the release of all Israelis missing in action, including Sgt. Shalit.
This past summer, we supported Rep. Gary Ackerman’s introduction of House Resolution 317, a resolution demanding that Hamas immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit. We are especially proud that Sgt. Shalit celebrated his bar mitzvah at Kfar Vradim, a Masorti kehillah in the Galilee, and his parents maintain a relationship with that kehillah.
We also wish to convey our continued hopes and prayers that other Israeli MIAs will soon be returned to their loved ones in Israel.
Gilad Shalit’s capture and imprisonment serves as a reminder of the fragility of human life, and his release as a beacon of God’s providence, themes that come to the fore during the season of Sukkot. As we near the end of the holiday, we give thanks to God for spreading a canopy of protection over Gilad Shalit throughout his captivity.