by Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana

“You shall not avenge” (Lev. 19:18)

The three Israeli teens, kidnapped and murdered by Hamas operatives, had barely been buried when we learned of yet another child abducted from in front of his home and brutally murdered, his body dumped in a forest outside Jerusalem and burned beyond recognition. It is horrible and I join with Israeli and Jewish leaders who condemn it in the strongest possible manner.

It is not yet clear who is responsible for the murder of the Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir age 16. As of this time, the Israeli police are seeing revenge as the most likely motive. Even as the funeral for Gilad Shaar (16), Naftali Fraenkel (16) and Eyal Yifrah (19) was concluding, an extreme-right wing rally was going on in downtown Jerusalem with demonstrators shouting “Death to Arabs.” There have been Facebook campaigns promoting this kind of vengeful rhetoric. The word “revenge” has become a rallying cry.

This has no place in Jewish discourse.

Israel is a nation of laws. Judaism is a people of law. Those who are responsible for this terrible murder must be brought to justice. And if it should be found that the murder of this young teen, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was perpetrated as an act of revenge - then we all bear the shame.

Yishai Fraenkel, uncle of one the three murdered Israeli teens, after hearing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s killing, has been quoted as saying: “Murder is murder. Whatever the nationality or age are, there is no justification, no forgiveness or penance for any murder.”

We mourn the terrible loss of life. We condemn any who use terror and murder as a political tool and who operate outside the law. We join with those who call for calm. And we join with those who rally against hate crimes, as some 3,000 did in Jerusalem, under the banner: “We Mourn, We Don’t Take Revenge.”