Hundreds Hold Candlelight Vigil in Los Angeles for Abducted Israeli Teens
LOS ANGELES -- Hundreds of candles were illuminated by members of the greater Los Angeles community at a vigil in Pan Pacific Park Amphitheater on Thursday night who united in song, prayer, and hope for the safe return of three boys who were abducted in Israel by terrorists last week.
Hamas is believed to be responsible for the kidnappings of Gilad Shaer, 16; Naftali Fraenkel, 16; and Eyal Yifrah, 19, who disappeared on their way home from school in Israel's West Bank. A report released by a senior Israel Defense Forces official claims the act was planned and carried out by Palestinian terrorists who had recently been released from Israeli prisons. One of the boys, Gilad Shaer, has relatives in L.A.
The IDF has asserted that Palestinian terror groups often try to kidnap Israelis with the stated goal "to trade civilians or IDF soldiers for the release of Palestinian prisoners."
"You cannot solve any problem with perpetual violence," Father Alexei Smith from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told Breitbart News. He addressed all who were congregated with words from Psalm 91, which is known as the Psalm of Protection -- a song often invoked in times of hardship -- and followed it with a short prayer.
Not only were all who congregated united to pray for the safe return of the youth, but echoed throughout the evening's hour was an overlapping message which showed solidarity with "Israel as she fights on the front lines against the forces of terror, of evil, and of violence." Those were the words uttered by Rabbi Kalman Topp of Congregation Beth Jacob in Los Angeles.
Elected officials, including the Consul General of Israel to the Southwest David Siegel and the Mayor of West Hollywood John D'Amico, and leaders of different faiths and communities united as they offered inspiring words of hope and a message of strength, while invoking action.
"Silence is an accessory to terror, and we are here, both in Los Angeles, and in communities around the world tonight, and throughout this week, to raise our voice against that silence, to condemn this act, and to call for the safe release of these kids," Siegel said to ABC 7 News in L.A.
Topp sent a message of connectivity to the parents of the boys that "we are all here waiting together with you" and that they are "not the only ones waiting for their boys to come home; we all are... you are not alone."
"Those terrorists make it more difficult for those Palestinians who want peace... and this adds to my deep sadness and my fear," said one woman who spoke at the vigil. "Tonight and every night we shall pray for the return of these three young men," she said.
Carlos Diaz from Tabernacle Biblico Bautista Amigos De Israel, or the Biblical Tabernacle Friends of Israel, provided prayers in both English and Spanish: "There is an Hispanic, Christian community in Los Angeles... and a big community of Christians United for Israel... that also prays for the prompt miracle of freedom and the return of the boys."
Pastor Stephen McGlover from Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, who represents part of the black community in Los Angeles, started off by saying "bring our boys home."
Quoting Leviticus 17:11, he said "life of the flesh is in the blood" and that it doesn't matter if it's "African-American blood... Jewish blood... white blood. So if life of the flesh is in the blood, then it's going to take team work to make the dream work that we become free and get rid of some of this terrorist mess that we are going through... it's going to take us all working together to make this happen," he closed.
Two birds flew over the gathering, circling each other in an elegant airborne dance, as all sang in unison to a Hebrew song.