NEW YORK – The New York Jewish community rejoiced in the virtual and actual world with the news of Gilad Schalit’s homecoming to Israel Tuesday.
“Schalit’s safe return home demonstrates some of Israel’s most inspiring qualities: its embrace of life, its sense of community and family; its tenacity; and the great lengths to which Israel is prepared to go to fulfill its commitment to the men and women who make up its citizen army,” read a statement by Anti-Defamation League national chair Robert Sugarman and ADL national director Abraham Foxman, which noted that Israel has come to see Schalit as “their own son and brother.”
American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris released a statement saying “Gilad Schalit’s arrival home is long-awaited news for his devoted family, for the Israeli people, and for countless others around the world who never gave up hope for his safe return from Gaza, where Hamas had held him incommunicado for more than five years.”
“Though we are thankful that Gilad Schalit has been returned safely to Israel and his family, we are outraged at his treatment over the last five years,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The terrorist group Hamas ignored all international entreaties for proof of Schalit’s wellbeing over the years. The group should not be praised for this much belated and cynical action.”
“As a community we welcome home Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held captive since 2006,” a statement from the JCC Manhattan read, inviting recipients to a communal gathering to celebrate his return that evening “while also acknowledging the supreme challenges that Israel continues to face.”