Thousands Mark End of Shiva for the Victims of Maalot Massacre
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Thousands Mark End of Shiva for the Victims of Maalot Massacre

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Thousands of people assembled inside and outside Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue here this afternoon in a solemn memorial and protest demonstration against the terrorist outrage at Maalot. The occasion was the end of the shiva, the seven day mourning period, for the 21 Israeli high school students and four other persons massacred in the border village last Wednesday. The chanting of memorial prayers and the words of speakers inside the synagogue were carried by loudspeaker to the throngs who stood in silence or wept outside.

The mass demonstration was sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations representing 32 national Jewish secular and religious groups. Mayor Abraham D. Beame of New York, who proclaimed today a “Memorial Day for the children of Maalot,” spoke from the synagogue podium.

Other speakers included Ambassador David Rivlin, Consul General of Israel; Dr. David Reis, an American-bon surgeon at the Safad hospital, who treated the dying and wounded brought there from Maalot; author Elie Wiesel; and Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Conference of Presidents. Rabbis Joseph and Haskel Lookstein, of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun led the reading of psalms and Cantor Avrum Bavis chanted El Mole Rachamim, the prayer for the dead.

Inside the synagogue, 21 candles were kindled for the 21 young victims. As each name was read, a student of the Ramaz School, affiliated with Kehilath Jeshurun, stepped to the dais to light a candle. When services concluded, those in the synagogue joined the thousands outside in a silent march to the Consulate General of Lebanon, ten blocks away. Rabbi Miller and a small group of Presidents’ Conference leaders were permitted through police barriers to deliver a letter addressed to Prime Minister Taki-Adin el-Sulh of Lebanon.


The letter, which Rabbi Miller had previously read in the synagogue, called on Lebanon to rid itself of the terrorists on its soil “for the safety of your own citizens and for the sake of world peace.” The letter accused Lebanon of giving “free rein to the murderers of children” and charged that country “stands self-accused as an accomplice to the murder of children.”

Lebanon’s “encouragement of terrorist activity has taken on even more ominous significance with the signing of the disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel and the encouraging progress toward disengagement between Syria and Israel that has been reported in recent days by Secretary of State Kissinger.” Rabbi Miller’s letter said. “But there can be no cease-fire and no peace in the Middle East as long as terrorist gangs are permitted to do business as usual.”


Beame’s proclamation said: “We mourn the senseless killing of more than two dozen persons, many of them defenseless children, by terrorists in the village of Maalot, Israel on the 15th of May, 1974. The massacre has become symbolic of the tragic history of the Middle East conflict. Last week’s deaths weigh heavily on those who still believe, after so much killing, that peace can somehow be achieved through campaigns of violence. We mourn all the innocent men, women and children who have been killed in years of war and terror. The people of all nations and the people of the city must join together to condemn the wanton and wasteful taking of lives in a world which yearns for peace….(and) pray that this latest tragedy will not destroy or impede the search for a true peace for the people of Israel and their neighbors.”

Earlier in the day in City Hall, Beame officially gave the proclamation to representatives of 24 Jewish national and local youth groups led by Jeffrey Feldman, president of the North American Jewish Youth Council.

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