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Soul Searching After Palestinian Teen's Murder

As Israelis try to make sense of killing, 350 Jews pay condolence call to Mohammed Khdeir's family.

07/08/14
Israel Correspondent
Photo Galleria: 
Relatives of slain teen Mohammed Khdeir in their mourning tent, where 350 Jews paid respects Tuesday. Michele Chabin/JW
Relatives of slain teen Mohammed Khdeir in their mourning tent, where 350 Jews paid respects Tuesday. Michele Chabin/JW

Shuafat, Israel — Israelis around the country digested the news that the police had arrested six Jews in connection with the grisly murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Khdeir.

Not since Yigal Amir gunned down Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995 have so many people here asked, “How could a Jew do such a thing?” Khdeir was reportedly burned alive.

Many bloggers have felt compelled to share their belief that the murders didn’t occur in a vacuum. 

“The arrests and confessions of several Jewish youth in the kidnapping and murder of an Arab teen should make us all look in the mirror,” Chana Rosenfelder, an Orthodox blogger, wrote in the Times of Israel. “So too should the murder of tens of women each year by their husbands or boyfriends; stabbings at night clubs ... the convictions of important politicians and servicemen for corruption, rape, bribery and deceit; rapes in junior high schools.”

Every day, Rosenfelder wrote, Israelis disregard the feelings of others, by venting their anger at the supermarket or cutting to the front of a line.

“We are a wonderful nation, warm and loving,” she emphasized, but at the same time, the murder “must make us all ... think, ‘Does my behavior reflect a respect for the law?”

Alden Solovy, a Jerusalem-based liturgist and author of “Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing,” decided to write a Kaddish prayer for Abu Khdeir to be recited by Jews. Earlier, he wrote a special Kaddish prayer for the three slain Jewish teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar.   

Hoping to show solidarity with the Abu Khdeir family, on Tuesday afternoon 350 Jewish Israelis, many of them American-Israelis, paid a condolence call organized by Tag Meir, a coalition of progressive Jewish organizations.

Rabbi Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who serves as the associate director for the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, said the suspects, who are reportedly Jewish, were nurtured in an atmosphere that legitimizes extremism. “Not one of our leaders had the guts ahead of time to enforce the laws against hate and incitement.”

Waiting on the long line outside the mourning tent as curious residents of Shuafat stood nearby, Avraham Green, a chasid with long side curls, a black kipa and coat, stood with a friend, dressed the same way, prepared to give his condolences to the grieving family.

“We came to say we are sorry for their pain,” Green, a Jerusalemite, told The Jewish Week. “The people who committed this crime may dress like us, but they don’t represent our community. There is not one leader in our community who supports what they did. Not one.” 

editor@jewishweekorg

Last Update:

07/09/2014 - 12:59

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The prayers of mine that you mention -- both the one for Muhammad and the one for Gil-ad, Iyal and Naftali z"l -- were painful to write. I was part of the Tag Meir group that went to Suafat to pay a condolence call to the Abu Khdeir family. I took a copy of the prayer and gave it to Muhammad's father. For your readers who are interested in the prayers, here's a link to my site: http://tobendlight.com/.

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