Gilad Shalit– an Israeli soldier captured and held by Hamas for over five long years– marks his 25th birthday today in captivity, his sixth birthday away from his family, his people, his home.
As an eleven year old boy, Gilad wrote the story “When the Shark and the Fish First Met.” The above video clip shows middle school students in the Bronx reading his story– a story of hope, peace, and unique friendship in a world dominated by hostility.
One can’t help but notice the parallels to the situation in the Middle East and the irony of Gilad’s plight. One can’t help but wonder how it is that an eleven year old boy can understand the importance of diplomatic resolution through dialogue, yet leaders in the Middle East continually refuse to engage Israel in peace negotioations and undermine Israel by denying its right to exist.
The Rabbis say that words came before the world. Indeed, G-d created the world through words: “And G-d said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The phrase “And G-d said” repeats throughout the story of creation, attesting to the power of words in this world. As we listen to Gilad’s youthful words, we should be reminded of the fortitude of the life behind them.
At such a young age, Gilad created a story of hope and peace for those who have always been enemies to each other. His words are now being read by youngsters around the world, teaching of diplomacy, tolerance, and a way to bridge cultural gaps. Even from the confines of captivity, Gilad’s words have participated in helping to right the world. His words are a clear illustration of how tikkun olam, repair [of the] world, can be achieved through writing.
It is your turn to do some tikkun olam, to use your words to help make things right in this world. Please take a moment to sign the petition to the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the United Nations on behalf of Gilad Shalit. Help to bring Gilad home for his 25th birthday.
May G-d bless you and keep you safe, Gilad, for now and always. May we see your speedy return to your loved ones, your land, and your home.
As we read this, let us also please keep in mind other Israeli soldiers declared MIA: Majdy Halabi (a Druze Arab Israeli soldier) missing since 2005, Guy Hever missing since 1997, Ron Arad missing since 1986, Zvi Feldman & Yehuda Katz & Zachary Baumel missing since 1982. May G-d hasten a safe return home for all.