In an ongoing effort to draw attention to the plight of the missing Israeli soldiers, the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union, the largest mainstream Orthodox Jewish synagogue organization, is sponsoring an upcoming “Shabbat of Remembrance” for the Israeli MIAs to be held this year on Friday, December 19th and Shabbat, December 20th, Shabbat Parashat VaYeishev and Shabbat Chanukah. Special remembrance prayers and services will be initiated in Orthodox synagogues throughout the country.
Betty Ehrenberg, IPA/OU Director of International and Communal Affairs, said, “Sergeant Tzvi Feldman, Sergeant Zachary Baumel, who is also an American citizen, and Corporal Yehuda Katz were reported missing in action twenty-one years ago. Captured after the battle of Sultan Yakub, which raged between an Israeli tank unit and a Syrian armored unit on June 11, 1982, they are still unaccounted for. The Syrians, responsible for the soldiers according to the Geneva Convention, have refused to reveal any information regarding their status or whereabouts. In 1986, Israeli Air Force Navigator Ron Arad bailed out of his airplane in Lebanon and was captured by an Iranian-backed group. Since then, requests for his release or information as to his condition of whereabouts have been refused.
“In October of 2000, Binyamin Avraham, Adi Avitan, and Omar Souad were kidnapped by Hezbollah while on routine patrol on Israel’s northern border. Syria, Lebanon, and the UN have not cooperated in releasing all the information they have about this heinous crime.
“Elchanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman who holds the rank of Colonel in the IDF reserves, was abducted on a business trip in Europe in October 2000 and is being held by Hezbollah and is in poor health.
“Guy Chever, a soldier in the Israeli army, disappeared in the Golan Heights on August 17, 1997. He was last seen at his base and there has been no sign of him since.
“On Shabbat Parashat VaYeishev, as we read the portion of the Torah that tells us that Jacob our forefather never stopped longing for his missing son Joseph, we cannot help but be reminded of these brave MIAs who risked their lives for the security of Israel. We want rabbis to urge their congregants to publicize this issue to elected officials throughout the country. Rabbis and synagogues leaders will discuss this issue in the context of the commandment of redeeming the captive.
“During this upcoming Shabbat Parashat VaYeishev, we urge all our congregants to contact the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State and all elected officials, enlisting their aid in making this a top priority agenda issue. For the families of the Israeli missing soldiers, every pain-filled day is a lifetime. We hope that the Israeli MIAs will be reunited soon with their families and all of Israel.”