Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL


Riverdale, NY, November 5, 1995 - Rabbi Avi Weiss, who symbolized American Jewish opposition to Yitzchak Rabin's territorial return policy and compromises with Yasir Arafat, this morning led 400 members of the Riverdale Jewish community in a memorial vigil to the murdered Israeli prime minister. The reason, Rabbi Weiss declared, is that "the slaying of the prime minister of Israel transcends all politics". The vigil was held in Rabbi Weiss' synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

The audience spanned the spectrum of Jewish life in Riverdale, left to right politically and religiously. It was reflected in the three main speakers: Rabbi Weiss, Orthodox; Rabbi Shlomo Balter of the Conservative Synagogue of Riverdale, and Rabbi Stephen Franklin of the Reform Riverdale Temple. The memorial was punctuated by the recitation of prayers and Psalms, and the signing of mournful songs and Israel's national anthem, the Hatikvah.

Rabbi Franklin stated: "In mourning, we join hands with those who disagree with us and hope that we will find a right way, that violence will never ben preached as the solution to our problems, or that violence is what G-d wants from us."

Rabbi Balter declared: "My concern is not only with the loss of a leader, but we the Jewish community. There is a saying that from the bitter good things might arise. We must reach out to each other."

Rabbi Weiss, who is also national president of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns - Amcha, stated, "This is a day of deep darkness for the Jewish people. I say this as one who has opposed this 'peace process'. But whatever one's political bent or religious commitment, the slaying of the prime minister of Israel transcends all politics.

"All my life I've recited the prayer for the State of Israel, that Israel is the dawn of our redemption. How far we are now from that dream. A few on the fringe have tried to justify the act by bringing in G- d and Torah. As an Orthodox rabbi, with all my might, I say that there is not a scintilla of justification. The assassination is the rule of thuggery in protest. It puts to an end all civil discourse. If a Jew can lift a gun to murder the prime minister of the State of Israel, it means we are a hairbreadth from that moment when Jews en masse can lift up guns against others in a civil war. What then will have happened to the Zionist dream?

"Each of us has a responsibility to dig deep into our souls and find the love to stamp out the hatred which has engulfed Israeli society. The test of love is not how you show respect to someone with whom you agree, but to one with whom you disagree."

Rabbi Weiss pointed to the Fast of Gedaliah, which marks the assassination of the last Jewish governor of the First Commonwealth in ancient Israel two thousand years ago. He suggested that the fast, which occurs the day after Rosh Hashanah, also commemorate the Rabin murder, and be termed the Fast of Gedaliah and Yitzchak.

"We pray not only for the soul of Yitzchak Rabin, but for the State of Israel and Jews throughout the world," Rabbi Weiss concluded. "The darkness of night is dispelled by the new moon. We pray that from a waning will come a waxing."

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