A crowd of over 500 didn’t let the rain stop them from peacefully gathering afternoon in the plaza of the James R. Thompson Center for a vigil of support for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped nearly two weeks ago.
Organized by the Jewish United Fund (JUF) with the support of numerous Chicago area synagogues and Israel advocacy groups, the gathering showcased a unified Jewish community joined by local political and Christian leaders.
“We come together in solidarity with the families of the kidnapped teens, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah,” said David T. Brown, area chairman of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation. “This kidnapping, as shocking as it is, is also the latest episode of a campaign of terror against Israel and the Jewish people.”
Brown went on to condemn the Palestinian government for its “glorification of the kidnapping.” Describing “official Palestinian Facebook pages by Hamas and by Palestinians in the street, saying that these kidnappings are okay,” he reminded the crowd that there are people in the United Nations, as well as the Palestinian prime minister himself, who “deny this kidnapping ever occurred.”
Monday’s event was “conceived and organized” by JUF’s Lewis College interns. Mara Flack, a student at Brandeis University, told the crowd “the theme of today is to focus on these three boys as individuals.” Through her telling the crowd about 16 year-old Naftali Frenkel, a citizen of both the United States and Israel, we learned that he is a “passionate and gifted student” and the eldest of seven children. On this particular day he was supposed to be taking his biology exams.