"The government's most important mission these days is the establishment of yeshivas and settlements, the approval of outposts, and the encouragement of the national birth rate," former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu told a crowd of religious-Zionist youths assembled at Teddy stadium in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.
About 8,000 youths participated in the rally commemorating the 30-day anniversary of the attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva. Eight beacons were lit by youths injured by the attack in honor of the deceased, and Sergeant David Shapiro and Rabbi Yitzhak Dadon were awarded certificates of honor for their brave acts during the attack, in front of the students, rabbis, and faculty seated on the grass.
Youths Rally (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
In a speech carried out by Rabbi Eliyahu, he asked the participants to comfort the bereaved parents. "The dear boys who were murdered are in heaven now, in the company of Rabbi Akiva and his friends, under the wings of the Divine presence," he said. "Parents, be comforted."
'Rise and be encouraged'
Head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivas, Rabbi Abraham Zuckerman, also spoke at the rally, saying, "Once Israel was all ours, and we did not hasten to settle and populate it. This is a sin that requires amending."
Praising the youths, he said, "God demands that we be role models for others, to other nations and to our brothers who are far from love, even brotherly love. We must bring them closer. Our slogan is 'rise and be encouraged', and we must encourage others too."
In video excerpts that were shown to the assembly, other rabbis spoke about the young generation and promised that the yeshiva attack would not threaten the Jews' hold on Israel. They called on the youths to utilize their powers to affect the opinions of others.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said, "We mourn and are immersed in sorrow – but we do not despair, we bewail – we have no compassion for ourselves, but you have it in you to turn this disaster into a building block. Israel will emerge victorious; our victory is hidden between the yeshiva walls."