Tonight: Community-Wide Memorial Service for the Three Israeli Teens.

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein
Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

Today is a day of national tragedy in Israel, as three murdered teenagers were laid to rest.


For the last few days, I have been in Jerusalem studying in a leadership cohort called the Hartman Rabbinic Leadership Initiative.  As I sit with a diverse cadre of Jewish leaders, focusing our studies on Jewish texts on the ethics of war and the value of peace, it is surreal to hear military helicopters overhead.


It is even more surreal to write to 14th Street Y Members and friends at home in New York City from where I sit, in a country in mourning, an atmosphere saturated with sadness and also despair over the ongoing conflict.



It is hard to explain the national mood and solidarity here in a way that resonates for Americans, because our country is so large. The closest things that I can compare it to in national attention was baby Jessica in the well (which had a good resolution) and Etan Patz (which made it impossible to let our children out of sight for a generation). Then, everyone had eyes glued, hoping for a positive resolution, identifying with those children as if they were our own. In Israel, a nation awaited the return of three kidnapped boys. And now, a nation cries as three sets of bereaved parents and siblings and grandparents and friends today buried their murdered children.


I know that this moment brings up many different feelings. For some, feelings of injustice, for others unbelievable sadness, or anger, or frustration at an ongoing cycle of violence.

I invite everyone who is moved to do so to join our friends at 7:30PM tonight at the Jewish Center on West 86th Street for a community wide memorial service for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, New York Board of Rabbis, and Council of Young Jewish Presidents.
I also want everyone to know that although I am out of the country, everyone at the 14th Street Y is very much on my mind.   I am interested in any thoughts or feelings you have.  Please email me directly at with anything that you might wish to say or share.
Shira Koch Epstein
Executive Director

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