FREE THEM TODAY!!!
TO: Synagogue Leadership
FROM: Richard B. Stone, Chairman
Betty Ehrenberg, Director, International Affairs and Communal Relations
DATE: September 1998
REMEMBERING THE ISRAELI SOLDIERS MISSING IN ACTION DURING THE HIGH HOLY DAYS
As Jews gather together in synagogues around the world during the High Holy days of 5759, we remember once again those who can not be with us in our synagogues as we pray. During this time, our thoughts return to them and to their families who have been suffering for so long.
Our Rabbis have taught us that the mitzvah of Pidyon Shivuyim, of redeeming the captive, is a mitzvah of the highest priority and supersedes many of our precepts.
We are torn apart by the question of whether the four Jewish sons,
our lost Israeli soldiers who are missing in action, are still alive or under what conditions they are being held captive. The Syrians and the Iranians are considered responsible; Syria for the whereabouts of Zachary Baumel (who is an American citizen as well as an Israeli), Yehuda Katz, and
Tzvi Feldman, missing since 1982, and Iran for Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad who has been missing since 1986.
On June 11th, 1982, a battle raged in the Bekaa Valley in Northern Lebanon between an Israeli tank unit and a Syrian armored unit. As a result of this battle, three Israeli soldiers were reported missing in action and are still unaccounted for. They are Sergeant Zachary Baumel, First Sergeant Tzvi
Feldman, and Corporal Yehuda Katz.
On October 16th, 1986, Captain Ron Arad, a navigator of an Israel Air Force Phantom parachuted to safety from a stricken aircraft. He landed in Southern Lebanon and was immediately captured by the Iranian Amal militia. To the
best of our knowledge, Arad is still being held by the Iranians somewhere in Lebanon.
At this time of year, as the Days of Awe approach, we urge you to help spread a special message to your fellow congregants and ask them to mobilize to help bring about the release of any information about our missing soldiers.
Rabbis should include the issue of Pidyon Shivuyim in their drashot.
A special “mishebayrach” for the MIAs, available from the IPA may be recited.
Please place an empty chair on the bimah of your synagogue with a sign marked with one of the names of the Israeli MIA’s. This will serve as a poignant reminder to us that there are some Israeli families who have not seen their children in more than fifteen years, and will hopefully result in
the inclusion of these sons in the prayers of Jews throughout the country this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Letters should be sent to President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and to Senators and Representatives, urging them to raise this issue as Israel, the Middle East, and the peace process are discussed in the many congressional committees.
United States Senators and Representatives need to hear from their constituents on this matter in order to make sure that it is paid sufficient attention. A sample letter is attached.
Please feel free to call us at (212) 613-8123 if you have any questions, or need more information or materials.
Tizku L’mitzvot. May you and your loved ones be inscribed and sealed for a sweet and healthy New Year.