An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Posted on November 23, 2015

Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst authored and circulated this Open Letter to President Obama about the murder of Ezra Schwartz:


To the Honorable President Barack H. Obama:

The life of a young American teenager has, tragically, been snuffed out.

Ezra Schwartz of Sharon, Ma was a baseball enthusiast, a popular leader and mentor of younger kids in his school in Boston and in summer camp; a faithful son, brother and friend to so many peers. He was as American as an American kid can be.

Along with two other innocent souls, Ezra was murdered because he was a Jew in Israel. He was murdered by a terrorist who, with hatred of Israel and of Israelis, descended to senseless bloodlust. He was murdered by a terrorist who was incited to hate and kill the Westerner, the Israeli – the “infidel”. His murder is akin, in every way, to the recent mass-killings that have shaken France and Mali, about which you have spoken out assertively.

Yesterday, Ezra was laid to rest, not far from home, here in Ezra’s beloved American soil.

Mr. President, why have you been silent?

Since his death, barely a statement was made by anyone in the U.S. government, just a rushed, clearly unimpassioned and terse statement read from prepared notes and with little (no) sympathy heard in the voice of State Department spokesman, John Kirby. Please review that press announcement. It is disturbingly shameful in its perfunctory tone and tenor.

I wish to believe that you have concern for the tragic loss of life resulting from incidents of terror such as this, especially for the murder of a young American.

Mr. President, why do you remain silent?

Is it because Ezra did not die as or because he was an American?

Oh, but he did!

Many post high school sons and daughters of the Jewish communities of America spend a year (often more) studying in Israel. Study of Torah and the absorbing and imbibing of the spirit of the land and its people are formative for many of these wonderful American kids. It is well known that they become better human beings for it all, and often, more committed Jews. In almost all instances they come back somewhat remolded into greater Americans – Americans who treasure the values of education, and of selfless giving and volunteerism. Ezra was attending post-high school Yeshiva in Bet Shemesh. He and his peers were delivering packages of treats for soldiers at the time of the attack.

Israel and the United States are partners in the growth and development of these young, great American boys and girls. So much good flows from what amounts to sharing in the positive development of these young men and women on the part of the United States and Israel, together.

Mr. President, Ezra was in Israel and died very much as an American; a very promising, young American, doing what many promising young Americans do on their way to making their contribution to our shared dream for a greater United States of America.

So the question looms large: Mr. President, how much longer will you be silent?


Moshe Teitelbaum, Rabbi
Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst
Cedarhurst, N.Y.