As the war raged between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, more than 250 people, wearing a variety of kippot, hats and hijabs, gathered at Manhattanville College’s Reid Castle. They were there on July 30 for a two-hour memorial service marking the end of shloshim, the initial 30-day mourning period for the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach — and the slain Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
Few in the non-Orthodox Jewish community deny the problem: an exodus of many empty nesters once their children have attained a significant Jewish milestone, whether it’s the bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation or Hebrew high school graduation.
The three yahrtzeit candles — one for each of the murdered Israeli teens — stood mute, silhouetted against the serene backdrop of trees visible through the picture windows of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue’s sanctuary, as a poignant reminder of why nearly every one of the 500 seats was occupied.
The downpour drenching the streets of White Plains last week didn’t affect the Sabbath calm that had descended on the 12 people inside the Taft Community Center. The group joined to recite the candle-lighting blessings and prayers for Israel and healing, then sang the traditional Shabbat songs “Oseh Shalom” and “Shalom Aleichem,” followed by Kiddush and a Friday-night dinner together.
The library at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in Hartsdale was packed with middle school students eagerly awaiting a special presentation from very special guests: members of the Israel SpaceIL team, which currently pursuing the goal of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon.