German Jews express joy over Schalit’s return

Head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews to Schalit family: "Gilad has become the son and brother of all of us."

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
October 21, 2011 02:19
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Dieter Graumann 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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BERLIN – Germany’s organized Jewish community on Tuesday expressed joy over Gilad Schalit’s return to Israel after more than five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter addressed to the Schalit family, Dr. Dieter Graumann, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, wrote: “I know you are receiving a lot of personal letters and many good wishes in these days from all over the world, but I know that in these moments you are thinking of just one thing: The homecoming of your lovely son and brother Gilad – and so are we!” Graumann called it “a matter of my very personal concern” that he wrote the message.

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“As a father myself I can only imagine what you and your whole family have been through in the last five years.

"But the endless love for your child helped you go on in your fight for his release and to never, never give up. Your courage and strength were a symbol for people worldwide who have fought in their home countries with hundreds of initiatives and rallies for the common goal: To set your son free!” Graumann continued by saying: “The unlawful captivity of a young man who was faithfully performing his duty, by a terrorist organization that rejects any basic human right, was too often hard to convey and the brutal injustice so hard to bear. But we all tried, and the Jewish community in Germany kept praying and calling loudly and from the bottom of our hearts for Gilad’s release. And we never lost our faith that he will return to his family and that this nightmare that started 2006 will have a happy ending for you. Five years have been five years too long, but now finally he is home again....”

The president of Germany’s 105,000 member Jewish community ended his letter by saying: “Words really cannot express the happiness I feel for you and I wish you all that your common future shall be a sweet one. In these recent, so very long years, Gilad has become the son and brother of all of us. In the name of the Jewish community in Germany, please send our very best wishes to Gilad and tell him how proud of him we all are – and how happy with all of you.”

The Jewish communities of Berlin and Munich issued separate statements expressing their happiness over Schalit’s freedom. Maya Zehden, a spokeswoman for the Berlin Jewish community, Germany’s largest, said: “We are happy” that Gilad has a “joint future with his family.”

The community praised Israel as a “country that values the life of each human being.”

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The former head of the Central Council of Jews and current president of the Munich community, Charlotte Knobloch, said in a statement: “The brutal five-year martyrdom from Gilad Schalit and his family has finally reached an end! That is good piece of news for the entire Jewish people.”

Knobloch, who survived the Holocaust in hiding and has family members in Israel, warned about the freed Palestinian terrorists.

She also mentioned the unknown fate of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose plane went down over in Lebanon in 1986 . “Israel does not abandon its children,” she said.

She termed the decision by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to move forward with the Schalit agreement “courageous.”
Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

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