Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Apparent Abduction of Students Hits Home

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Apparent Abduction of Students Hits Home

Article excerpt

Jews around North Jersey have been galvanized by the apparent kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank, expressing solidarity with them through prayer vigils, petitions, letters and social-media support.

Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, vanished Thursday as they were returning home from school. Frenkel holds U.S. citizenship, and his family has many relatives in the New York area.

"I have been going through my day thinking of what it must be like for those kids," said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, leader of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood. "It's horrific."

Coordinated prayer services were held Sunday night in synagogues throughout Bergen County, and more organized events are likely, he said.

Goldin said many Jews were disappointed that President Obama had yet to make a public statement on the incident. On Monday the U.S. State Department said it still was seeking information on the apparent kidnapping, for which Israel's government has blamed Hamas, the Palestinian group branded a terrorist organization by Israel and the West.

Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, called on Obama to "use his influence with the Palestinian Authority to secure the immediate release of these three young men."

Teaneck Councilman Mark Schwartz wrote to the governor, Bergen County executive and other state and county leaders, explaining that many Teaneck residents travel to Israel for cultural studies and that those teens just as easily might have been from Teaneck. "Let our president and this world know that our students are sacred," he wrote.

And many North Jerseyans joined a campaign on Twitter launched by Israelis entitled #BringBackOurBoys -- a hash tag based on the recent viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign that brought international attention to the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by a terrorist organization.

Cracking down on Hamas, Israel has arrested more than 150 Palestinians since the teens disappeared. Hamas praised the apparent abduction but stopped short of claiming responsibility. Other, un- authenticated claims have emerged. …

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