Reform Jewish Teen Leads Diplomatic Charge to Free Captive Israelis URJ Campers Join New York City Free the Soldiers Rally
July 13, 2007 Under the leadership of 16-year-old activist Gabrielle Flaum of Short Hills, NJ, the URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps will represent the Reform Movements youth during the Free the Soldiers Rally on Monday, July 16, 2007 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the United Nations in New York City.
S.O.S.: Save Our Soldiers (S.O.S.), the national youth movement created by Flaum upon returning home from a NFTY in Israel trip last summer, is dedicated to raising the awareness of captured soldiers Regev, Goldwasser, and Shalit. Flaum will be joined by a delegation of 300 people including the Eisner and Crane Lake Camps Machon Leadership Program participants, members of the Camps Israeli staff and faculty members, as well as campers from Kutz Campus, the Union for Reform Judaisms NFTY Leadership Academy.
S.O.S., Gabrielle Flaum and her peers have become a driving force in the effort to win the release of Israels kidnapped soldiers, demonstrating a deep and abiding commitment to advocacy, tikkun olam and the prophetic ideal that serves as the underpinning of Reform Judaism, said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. In these and all their deeds, may these young people go from strength to strength and may the work of their hands help to bring about the swift and safe return of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit.
Flaum became the leading force behind legislation that was introduced in the New Jersey State Legislature, demanding that the United Nations assist in the release of the soldiers (SR94/AR244). Flaum and S.O.S. testified before the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate, leading to the passage of the Resolution two weeks ago, becoming the first state to pass such a resolution.
A product of the Reform Movement and member of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, Flaum is currently a counselor-in-training in the Machon Leadership Program at Eisner Camp, after having spent ten summers as a camper. Upon her return to the United States last year, Flaum sought an outlet to release her energy and new found passion for Israel. She hoped to do something for the three kidnapped soldiers and engage others in her mission.
Eisner Camp and the Reform Movement are proud that Gabrielles devotion has manifested itself in New Jersey and hopes that her work will be continued at the United Nations, said Louis Bordman, Senior Director of URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. Machon campers Robbie Heeger and Aaron Mazie wrote Pikuach Nefesh, a song supporting Israeli soldiers, while in Arad, Israel during the Israeli-Lebanese conflict in the summer of 2006. The song, which will be performed during the rally, urges peace and unity in the Middle East from the eyes of our Jewish-American youth.
Through advocacy and activism, this group hopes to engage others in the Jewish values of pikuach nefesh (saving a life) and havaat shalom beyn adam lchaveyro (making peace amongst human beings), carried out through the mitzvot (commandments) of pidyon shvuyim (the redemption of captives) and tikkun olam (repairing the world), to simultaneously act quickly to bring our soldiers home.
This rally is sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and in cooperation with the United Jewish Communities, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the UJA-Federation of New York, and the American Zionist Movement, and will urge the United Nations to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev, who were kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah one year ago.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.