Did Shalit’s Family Go Too Far?

imageHappy Israel Independence Day! Check out this slide show over at Elder of Ziyon.
We watched the Yom Haatzmaut celebration on line. Each year, twelve people are chosen to light torches that represent the twelve tribes. The theme this year was mutual aid.

Three unusual things happened.

  1. The father of Rivka Holtzman, who was murdered by terrorists in Mumbai along with her husband, lit one of the torches. He and his wife are caring for their orphaned grandson, Moishe, who was in the audience. Rabbi Rosenberg, head of the Chabad House in Afula, expressed his wish that the Rebbe-Mashiach would soon arrive.
  2. During the impressive singing and dancing at the end—I’m going out of order here—one of the singers fell flat on her behind. They switched to a view from a different camera but after a few seconds you couldn’t tell that anything had happened. I’m sure it hurt.
  3. While the torches were being lit, the brother of captured soldier Gilad Shalit managed to get in front of the crowd, with his girlfriend, holding signs urging the government to do more to get Gilad released. The cameras did not show what happened until afterward, but the announcer on Channel 10 described it over the sound of the ceremony. My first thought was that the protest was unfair to the people being honored at the ceremony. My second thought was that the protest was effective, in that the message came through that while the nation is celebrating, Gilad and his family are suffering. My third thought was that our government isn’t the one holding him. Putting more pressure on the Israeli government means asking it to make more concessions. The pressure should be placed where it belongs: on Hamas and its enablers.
  4. Here is a link to a YNet video of the protest.


  1. B”H Giving this much thought…after all who am I to judge a broken heart….that being said….something to think about….when ‘we’ openly criticize our Government (Baruch Hashem we can both in Israel and the US) in this time of war around the world, we must consider the enemy’s viewpoint; in this case perhaps we are playing right into the enemy’s hands….and perhaps not but this Family’s pain is real….we must support them with Achdus!!! We must give them the benefit of the doubt. A lack of Achdus lost us the 2nd Temple…therefore when any Jew hurts I hurt….I am deeply sorry for the Shalit and Klal Yisroel’s pain; may there be the Bracha of Freedom, Shalom, Sheffa and may Mosheach soon for the Shallits and Klal Yisroel with chesed and rachamim.

    • Devorah, there’s no question that the family’s pain is real. However, their actions are clearly intended to have political implications and therefor it is not off limits to discuss them.

  2. Varda Epstein says

    I completely agree with you, Hanna. This was not the time or place. Also, as you said, puts the onus on the wrong party and calls for untenable concessions. Also, I have to say this: the situation with Gilad breaks my heart, but I don’t like the Shalit family’s politics.

  3. My second thought was that the protest was effective, in that the message came through that while the nation is celebrating, Gilad and his family are suffering.

    But that’s the point of juxtaposing Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut. We don’t have to keep it going so we *never* enjoy any of the positive.

    In fact I have a teacher who suggested one reason people can bear hardship is because they know others are living out more simcha – because if everyone throughout the world were only suffering it would be too much to go on.

    My third thought was that ….Putting more pressure on the Israeli government means asking it to make more concessions.

    I’m sure we’ve all seen the cartoon in which the Shalit activists keep upping the ante on behalf of Hamas. It is unfortunate that the Shalit family hasn’t felt or hasn’t been made to feel that the Israeli government is a partner with them to recover their son.

  4. B”H so nu does one change their politics when their in pain….I’m NOT saying they were correct…..I DO wish they focused on accountability of the Kidnappers and those backing them……However I think it is for Hashem to judge not us…..May the Shallit Family feel Hahsem’s Sheffa and redirect their energies to Tefillah and the true accountable parties

    • It is not the Shalit family who are a problem, as you say, who can judge them. The problem is the stand much of the media takes firmly by their site without discussing implications of their stand, and the exposure given by the media to them, more than to others in the past since their views are those of the media.

  5. I think the Shalit family is generally inappropriate (demanding that the government release hundreds of terrorists to get their son back), though excusably so since they are suffering what no family should ever have to suffer. But they are enabled/encouraged by media, the government, and Israeli society. I’m sure there was a lot of security at this event and someone could have taken away this poster, as I’m sure they would have if people came to this event with, say, a Justin Bieber poster or a poster commemorating the Nakba. But the Shalits get a free pass… I really don’t blame the Shalits at all, just everyone who allows their inappropriate behavior.

  6. The Shalit family, encouraged by the media, is playing out the not so subtle passage from Zionist society to post-Zionist. We have gone from a society focused on the return to our land and the building of a state to a society focused on individual rights and fulfillment. The state now serves us and not the converse. Shalit’s parents (and all the other parents) are saying the state didn’t protect our son, the state is responsible for our suffering and we will fight the state. What they are not saying is our son is a soldier and his ordeal is protecting us. Bottom line, and even they don’t deny this, is that they are willing (actually demanding) that all the citizens take a risk (i.e. free terrorists and thereby reward the Hamas for it’s efforts and steadfastness) in order to bring their son home.
    As a practical tactic their protest was ‘effective’ it brought attention to them. Is it attention that will benefit them? I doubt it. Framing their cause as Gilad’s life is more important than say Moishie’s parents has, and will continue to alienate people. Most of us are too polite to say it out loud, but while Gilad Shalit’s safe return is most definitely in the consensus, his family’s politics and actions are testing our patience.

  7. you forgot to mention another thing that happened when rabbi Rosenberg concluded his words he changed the offically accepted text to say l’tiferet medinat eretz yisrael, instead of l’tiferet medinat yisrael

    • Safranit says

      My husband commented on the Medinate Eretz Yisrael…I wouldn’t expect less from Chabad 🙂

  8. Nurse Yachne says

    “The Shalit family, encouraged by the media, is playing out the not so subtle passage from Zionist society to post-Zionist”

    You got that right, Risa. I pray for the release of Gilad every day, and for the welfare of his family, and I am aware that I cannot fully understand their agony.

    That having been said, I also pray daily for the ability to maintain my courage and integrity unnder any challenges I may face when put to the test. I would never want to expect the rest of the Jewish people to suffer for my personal benefit. May G-d grant that I act with wisdom and valor.

  9. The Shalit family is waging their campaign very politically, very extreme Left. They blame Israel, especially Bibi, and not the Arabs who are holding Gilad. They don’t go after the International Red Cross, either. He’ll never be released until they change focus.

  10. it is very questionable rabbis Holtzberg participation at the ceremony since the government not always hold good relations with the Chabad policies. He reportedly also ran from the script, as stated sentences different from what he was supposed to say, another abnormality of the event. this country is becoming more and more confusing by the day. thanks again for the great post!