Torah scroll dedicated in memory of kidnapped, murdered teens

Speakers emphasize the importance of Jewish unity at ceremony dedicating Torah scroll in memory of the three murdered teens.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Dedicating the Torah scroll
Dedicating the Torah scroll
World Bnei Akiva (WBA)

A Torah scroll dedicated to the memory of the Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel was on Thursday donated to the study hall of the World Mechina (mechina is a pre-military Torah academy) in Kibbutz Migdal Oz.

YIfrah, Sha'ar, and Frenkel were abducted and murdered in June 2014 by Hamas terrorists Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha of Hevron.

Participating in the Torah dedication ceremony were the Sha'ar, Yifrach and Frenkel families, Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau, World Bnei Akiva Chairman and World Zionist Organization Settlement Division head Gael Greenwald, Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman, World Bnei Akiva movement heads, Kibbutz Migdal Oz residents, and girls from the Migdal Oz's midrasha for girls.

The inauguration ceremony began on the hills of Oz and Gaon, the outpost established after the teens' bodies were found. Rabbi Lau wrote the last letters of the scroll, after which participants marched to Kibbutz Migdal Oz, where the world’s first religious pre-military academy was established and where the Beit Midrash (study hall) will be home to the Torah scroll. The marchers sang and danced, greatly excited with the emotional situation.

Last year, relatives of the three teens received a request from Sammy Samuel Saban, who wanted to donate a Torah scroll dedicated to the memory of their sons. The families, which have been working since the murders to unite the nation and to turn their tragic story into a source of empowerment, found a place that would express this value of unity: The World Mechina prepares high school graduates for their military service, serving both native Israelis and foreign citizens. Participants include young men and women from across the religious-political-international spectrum. In addition, the mechina is located near where the murder took place and the teens' bodies were found.

The ceremony was led by World Bnei Akiva Director Roi Abecassis, who was visibly moved.

"The connection of Israel to the diaspora is critical. The World Bnei Akiva movement works tirelessly to nurture and care for this connection," he said. "The mechina was established out of a utopian vision of the unity of the people who live in Zion and the people who live abroad, all for joining together in a study hall teaching Torah in Israel."

"The families' decision to dedicate the scroll to the teens' memory takes me back to the days after the kidnapping, where Jews all over the world united in prayer and in concern for their safety. These moments are an inspiration for the pupils at the World Mechina, which focuses on caring for the unity of the people of Israel and indeed they do so in practice in the World Mechina."

In his speech, Rabbi Lau spoke about the prayers said by the entire nation when the boys' fate unknown, reminiscing how the nation was united and rose above all disputes.

"This Torah scroll is dedicated to the memory of the three sons, we all introduce this Torah today in a place which is all about unity. We give new meaning to the word 'brothers,' because this is indeed what we are and it doesn’t matter where we came from." Rabbi Lau said.

"The beauty of this Torah scroll is that its content is the same no matter where you are, Sephardic or Ashkenazic, from Israel or abroad. Externally one Torah scroll can be different than another but inside, the content is the same. This is what unites us, this same thing."

Gil-Ad Sha'ar's father Ofir spoke about the weekly Torah portion, noting that it talks about when Yaakov received his second name, "Israel." The duality of names Yaakov and Israel represents the combination that is so important in Yaakov's descendants: the combination between the ability to study Torah and to fight.

This combination, he said, is found especially in the World Mechina, where the world of Torah and preparation for the military are intertwined.

"I hope this place, where unity was forged during crisis, will help create unity also during better days, and between the different groups in the nation, [both those who are in Israel and those who are abroad," he said. "We, the families of the teens, would like to thank everyone who is part of the World Mechina, the World Bnei Akiva movement, Kibbutz Migdal Oz and the Gush Etzion Council for the unique opportunity given here.”

Shlomo Ne’eman emphasized Israel's struggle for its right to exist throughout the generations.

"The nation of Israel is the nation of eternity. Many of the Maccabees’ battles were fought in this very area. This is the land on which Elazar the Maccabee was killed, and in our time this is where the three teens were killed. I grew up in a place where there were no Torah scrolls. This unique ceremony in which a Torah scroll finds its new home is another opportunity to revive the soul of the eternal nation," Ne'eman said.