Leaders of the Reform Movement expressed cautious optimism about news of a tentative agreement between Israel and Hamas that would result in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive in Gaza for five years. Shalit could be released in the coming days in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
"On the eve of Sukkot, the holiday known as Zman Simchatanu (a time of rejoicing,) we rejoice at the prospect of Gilad Shalit's release," said Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, "We wait expectantly for his safe return, and pray that he is in good health and can be embraced of his family and the citizens of Israel. While we know that negotiators for the State of Israel paid a high price, we support and applaud the Israeli Government for bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion."
"We enter the holiday of Sukkot with the hope that five long years of prayers for Pidyon Shevuim, the Redemption of the captives, will finally be fulfilled when Gilad Shalit is reunited with his family his country, and his people, alive and well" said Rabbi Daniel Allen, Executive Director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). "We hope that this courageous decision by the Government of Israel may spark a time of peace."
"At the start of a new year, our hearts are filled with joy at the prospect that Gilad Shalit will soon be reunited with his family. The vigil that the Shalit family, the Israeli people, and the Jewish community worldwide have kept for more than five years, praying and hoping for Gilad's safe return, is now hopefully coming to an end," said Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Rabbi David Saperstein.
"We commend the Israeli government for its unceasing efforts to ensure Gilad's homecoming. Today's agreement demonstrates the preciousness with which Israel treats the life of each and every IDF soldier. We applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Obama Administration, the government of Canada and all those leaders around the world who have kept Gilad Shalit in their thoughts over the past five years and have made his well-being a top diplomatic priority. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Shalit family and we look forward to seeing Gilad Shalit healthy and home."