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Light of Hope and Prayer

The terrifying news from Israel this morning took me back to a Friday 20 years ago. I wish to share with you the story, and more importantly, to request an immediate action. 

It was on a Thursday afternoon in October 1994 when an Israeli soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists who gave 24 hours to fulfill their demands before they will execute the young solider. The ultimatum was to expire on Friday night at 8:00pm.

I remember walking that Friday evening in the streets of my hometown Tzfat. It was the most memorable eve of Shabbat I had in my life. Every home lit Shabbat candles, and all the synagogues were packed with men, women and children who came to pray for the safe return of young Nachshon.

The feeling was like one big family who had come together to bring their child back home.

As you may have seen in the news, last night, a group of cruel terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teens and disappeared with them, most probably into the Palestinian territories.

Jewish tradition teaches that  when women and girls light Shabbat candles on Friday evening it is a powerful time of prayer. The gate of heaven are open when we begin our day of rest by illuminating our souls and our home. 

The families who are in trepidation that one can not imagine, requestedthat  every Jewish woman and girl, when lighting Shabbat candles, pray for their sons, that they all return home safe with no losses to the Israeli security forces.

Let us hearken to their appeal and dedicate this Friday night for the three Israeli boys Yaakov Naftoli ben Rachel Devorah, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim, Eyal ben Iris Shira.

Let us light tonight  (in Victoria between 7:36 and 8:57) a light of hope, a flame of unity. May G-d Almighty hear our prayers and may this Shabbat be a Shabbat of peace and great news. 

We do celebrate Shavuot in Victoria!

Turning to the crowd after the Torah Reading of the Ten Commandments on the first day of Shavuot, I reflected on an exchange I had 10 years ago.

It was after Pesach of 2004, our first year in Victoria. In a conversation with a new friend I had just met, who has been living  in Victoria for many years, I mentioned that we were preparing for the holiday of Shavuot coming up, hoping to have a great celebration, to which he replied "Shavuos?! We don't celebrate this holiday in Victoria!"...

Thank G-d, we had a nice celebration that year and the years that followed, but when this Wednesday evening the Shul was filled with adults and children (especially women and girls), I got the confidence to proclaim loud and clear "We DO celebrate Shavuot in Victoria!"

To all those who are concerned about the future of Jewish life in North America, to all who predict a constant decline in Judaism in the western countries,  to all who question the commitment of our people to our heritage -

You should have witnessed men and women of all backgrounds, young and old, standing together accepting for the 3327th time their duty, seven thousand miles away from the place where they had said for the first time "we will do and we will hear"! 

Our Torah is beyond time and space, beyond logical predictions too. 


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