WELLESLEY, Mass. Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than a dozen rockets into southern Israel Thursday after overnight air strikes by Israel against Hamas targets. Long-simmering tensions in the region have ignited.
Riots broke out Wednesday in East Jerusalem after the burned body of a Palestinian boy from the neighborhood was discovered in a forest. That discovery came just days after the bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank.
Closer to home, there were calls for calm and hope at a memorial service held in Wellesley Wednesday night.
Sadness And Anger
They came together as a community, 650 people from religious organizations from around the Boston area, gathering at Temple Beth Elohim.
Rabbi Rachel Saphire led the memorial service with a prayer acknowledging that amid the sadness was anger.
“With broken hearts we grieve in a world that has been darkened with the pain of hatred, violence and bloodshed,” she said. “May your redemption arise from heaven.”
Two large screens overheard projected images of the three murdered Israeli teens. They were recalled as kids who loved basketball, poetry and playing guitar. They lived in what Israel calls the West Bank and Palestinians say is occupied territory. They died last month soon after they were kidnapped, but their bodies were only found earlier this week.
Soon calls went out to mourn and mobilize. Rabbi Benjamin Samuels of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah asked those who gathered in Wellesley to heed the call.
“For our three boys we gather today for three things: solidarity, support and significance,” he said. “We must find ways to give enduring significance to their lives and to their deaths and turn their memories…into a blessing.”
Turning Anger Into Action
Yehuda Yaakov, Israeli consulate general to New England, called for solidarity with the Jewish state, which he calls a vibrant, multicultural democracy.
“It is also fortress Israel,” he said. “And while we educate our children generation after generation after generation for coexistence, we are surrounded by a lot of people who are still not educating their children to live side by side by Israel.”
Among the mourners was Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch. Six weeks ago he visited Israel on a bipartisan fact-finding mission.
“We seek justice for those who committed these unspeakable atrocities, and, in the wake of this terrible tragedy, I do take comfort and strength from Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s call for all sides to come together and not take the law into their hands,” he said.
Turning anger into action, not revenge, was the message repeated again and again at the memorial service.
The day after the bodies of the Israeli teens were found, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy on his way to Ramadan prayers was abducted and killed near Jerusalem.
Barry Shrage, president of the the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in the Boston area, quoted the father of one of the Israeli teens who was murdered.
“They said, ‘Murder is murder is murder, and any child who is killed is a tragedy, and we mourn for that child the same as we mourn for our own,’ ” Shrage said.
“We’ve mourned, we’ve cried. Now we have to get to work,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “Tell people what you did tonight. Tell people what you felt. Tell people what you heard. Tell people what you know. Do not be silent. Their murderers silenced them. We can make their voices live. Let their memories be a blessing.”
And as they left the Wellesley synagogue, the mourners sang Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem. It means “The Hope.”