Pidyon Shvuim — The Mitzvah of Freeing the Captive
By Lisa Alcalay Klug
In a little more than two months, Gilad Shalit will turn 23 — if he is still alive.
Yesterday marked the three-year anniversary of Shalit’s abduction by Hamas. An Israeli soldier captured during a border raid on Gaza, Hamas is holding Shalit captive. He became the first soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists since Nachson Wachsman was abducted in 1994; tragically Wachsman, z’l, was ultimately murdered. Shalit served in the IDF’s Armor Corps, and at the time of his abduction, held the rank of corporal. The IDF has subsequently promoted him to staff sergeant.
Hamas has barred the International Red Cross from seeing Shalit, demanding that Israel free 1,000 terrorists in exchange for his release. Israel has agreed but negotiations have deadlocked on the number of so-called “heavyweight” prisoners. Shalit holds French citizenship, but both France and the European Union have also been unable to secure his release.
When he was 11, Shalit, wrote a story about two enemies, the shark and the fish, who become friends.
A new YouTube project shows people all of all ages reading his story, in a multi-lingual campaign initiated by the Consulate General of Israel in New York that stresses the universality of this issue.
In 2008, the French town of Raincy and the city of Paris named Gilad an honorary citizen. Rome did so in April, 2009, when Mayor Gianni Alemanno said that the Shalit affair does not concern the state of Israel alone, but the whole of humanity. This week, both Miami and New Orleans followed suit and claimed Gilad as their citizen as well. At a recent rally in Tel Aviv, Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen called him “everyone’s child.” As Geffen sings, Gilad belongs to all of us.
Please join efforts to appeal for Gilad Shalit’s release. Express your support to President Obama. Write your representatives in Congress. Ask your city to embrace Gilad as its own citizen. Spread the word and share the message. Pray for the release of Gilad ben Aviva and keep this issue alive. Release Gilad Shalit!
Award-winning journalist Lisa Alcalay Klug is the author of Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe and the founding editor of Tolerant Nation.