By: Sarina Roffé
On August 11, 2015 (26 Av), a magnificent Sefer Torah was dedicated in memory of the three innocent Israeli teenage yeshiva students slain by Hamas in the West Bank on June 12, 2014 while hitchhiking home from their yeshiva for Shabbat. The three teens were Naftali Fraenkel, 16; Gil-ad Sha’ar, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19.
"The Torah scroll will be used at the Kotel, and was made possible by donations from the Sephardic community," said Rabbi Auziel Admoni, co-founder of Netivot Israel Luna Terror Victim Fund (NILT). “This Sefer is for the nation of Israel,” he said.
The teenagers were fatally shot shortly after they got into a car near the Kfar Etzion settlement south of Jerusalem. After a massive search, their bodies were found 18 days later under a pile of rocks in an open field just 15 miles from where they were last seen.
“When we heard what happened to the three boys, we wanted to do something,” said Moroccan-born Daniel Frija, the founder of NILT. “A Sefer Torah dedicated in memory of the three boys seemed appropriate.”
In attendance at the dedication and festive meal were Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Hacham Yitzhak Yosef, Rabbi Hillel Haber, Rabbi David Massry, Rabbi Shimon Alouf, Rabbi Rueben Elbaz, Rabbi Asher Elhaddad, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz (rabbi of the Kotel), Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Arye Stern, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
More than 1,000 people attended the dedication, which was held in the Kotel tunnels, in the Hashmonaim room, and followed by a special meal in the room called Azhar Koteleinu. Special Tehillim books featuring pictures of the three boys were distributed. A video presentation was shown, documenting the lives of the three victims. Members of the three families wrote in the Sefer and were invited to light candles in memory of their sons.
“We gave the Torah to the Kotel and it will be used there by visitors,” said Rabbi Admoni. “These are observant families, and this is a meaningful way to remember the three – Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal. The 613th and last commandment in the Torah is that we are each to write a Torah. Since most do not have the ability to do so, taking part in the Torah writing allows the person to have a share in the mitzvah.”
Netivot Israel Luna Terror Victim Fund was launched after the 1992 murder of the Hatuel family in Gush Katif, for the purpose of assisting Israeli families affected by terror, and has donated over $1.5 million shekels to victims of terror.