Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz calls for prayers for teens’ return

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Talmud scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, founder of the yeshiva high school attended by two of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, called on Jews to recite psalms and pray for their safe return.

Steinsaltz in a statement issued Sunday called the kidnapping of students from the Yeshivat Mekor Chaim, located in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, “a shocking, painful and frightening event.”

“In a time and place that had seemed to us quiet and serene, we have been thrown into an event that we can do nothing to resolve,” he said.

The teens, including one dual Israeli-American citizen, have been missing since Thursday night. They were last seen trying to get rides home from Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem.

They were identified Saturday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, who is also an American citizen. Shaar and Frenkel are the Mekor Chaim students.

Steinsaltz expressed gratitude to the Israel Defense Forces for its efforts to return the teens to their families, and frustration that he and other concerned Israelis are not able to assist.

“All we have left now is to turn to our Father in Heaven and plead,” Steinsaltz said.

“What we can do, ­ and this has been the Jewish way from time immemorial, ­ is to add more holiness and learn more Torah,” he said. “Furthermore, we Jews have always been accustomed to reciting the Psalms, and we certainly ought to do more of this, especially two psalms that seem to me most relevant: Psalms 142 and 143, chapters that literally deal with our plight.  We pray also for the safety of those we are working toward their rescue.”

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