Karnit Goldwasser to Jewish leaders: 'Don't give up'

Board of Governors: Bnei Menashe should be moved to Israel.

The wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser urged world Jewish leaders on Monday to keep up their efforts to bring home her husband and the two other captive soldiers, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit. "We are asking you to raise your voices. Do not give up until they are back home," Karnit Goldwasser told a meeting of the Jewish Agency's Board of Governors in Jerusalem. "Say what you need so they will not be forgotten," said Goldwasser, who has not seen or heard from her husband since he was captured by Hizbullah on July 12, as he patrolled Israel's border with Lebanon. Regev was also taken in the same attack in the north. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas in a separate attack on the Gaza border in the south on June 25. Members of all three families came to the Board of Governors to lobby for its continued support. At the meeting they were given a standing ovation. Goldwasser thanked the board for its efforts to date. She said it was like a "big hug" that has given her and the relatives of the three captive men "a lot of strength." She was certain, she said, that it was due to their work that she was able to meet with US Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-New York) when she was in the United States last week. "She [Clinton] spoke beautifully about the three of them. She did that because of you," Goldwasser said. She also credited Jewish leaders present at the Board of Governors with the bi-partisan bill, presented by US Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-New York) last month, demanding the captives' release. "He did so, because you demanded it," she said. "Please continue to push for their release and work to obtain information about their condition." Until now, the only sign that has been received from the three of them was a letter from Shalit, she noted, adding that nothing has been heard from her husband or from Regev. "All we are asking for is a sign of life. We will not and we cannot lose hope," she said. Board of Governors Chairwoman Carol Solomon promised that she and her board members would continue to work on behalf of the captive men "with everything we have." "We will keep our collective voices raised." Meanwhile, the Board of Governors decided in its closing plenary to adopt the proposal of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to urge the Israeli government to bring the remaining Bnei Menashe, some 7,000 people, from India to Israel. Eckstein, who was honored for helping bring to Israel the first 216 members of the tribe who converted to Judaism in India in November 2006, said: "A decision has got to be taken and the rest of the Bnei Menashe tribe should be brought to Israel regardless of any financial difficulties." Some 1,000 Bnei Menashe made aliya in the past decade, the majority of whom underwent conversion in Israel. The Indian government stopped Bnei Menashe immigration after the 216 converted there, an act that illegal according to Indian law.