Jerusalem chief rabbis call for unity in face of terrorist attacks

Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Aryeh Stern pray for victims of recent attacks in capital at Western Wall.

The western wall (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The western wall
The chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar and Aryeh Stern, led a prayer rally at the Western Wall on Thursday afternoon for the victims of the terrorist attack in Har Nof on Tuesday, and for those injured in the other recent terrorist incidents.
Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and senior national-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner were also in attendance.
Stern condemned the attack that was staged in the Har Nof neighborhood, describing the terrorists as “bloodthirsty,” but also called for greater Jewish unity in the wake of such events.
“The response to such an attack must be outrage,” said the rabbi.
“We cannot reconcile ourselves to the murder of innocent people in a synagogue. We have to emphasize that people who do this, who sink to such a level, have no fear of heaven.”
He continued, saying: “We also must respect the opinions of others, and we need to break down the divisions between different sectors of society, because when the Jewish people are united, then we are strong.”
Stern said that the Jewish response should be to deepen “the connection to Torah and the Land of Israel,” but also noted a comment from the Talmud that “the Land of Israel is acquired through suffering,” and that “although the Jewish people have merited to return to our land and establish the state, that merit must be continually earned.”
Speaking after the prayer service, Amar said that the Jewish people would only become stronger in the face of the terrorist attacks that have been perpetrated in recent weeks and months and, like his colleague, called for greater tolerance and goodwill within the country.
“We must love our neighbor. We must distance ourselves from argument and hatred. We must not give offense to others,” he said, calling at the same time “to increase Torah study, which has the power to prevent bloodshed.”
Earlier on Thursday, Amar criticized the mayor of Ashkelon, Itamar Shimoni, who said he was halting the employment of Arab laborers doing construction work in local daycare centers in the city, following the recent wave of terrorist attacks.
“Such words are unnecessary and harmful. We must not forget that there are Jews in Arab countries, and we need to be careful and act wisely,” he told Kol Barama radio station, and also called for dialogue with Muslim leaders in order to reduce the heightened tensions in the country.
Stern said he could “understand why the mayor said what he did,” but said that “such extremes are not necessary and daily security checks can provide sufficient protection.”