The families of Israeli terror victims gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Kotel (Western Wall) on the eve of the Fast of Esther in a powerful act of prayer, pleading with God to end the wave of violence that has claimed dozens of innocent lives.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Kotel, their prayers accented by blasts of silver trumpets prepared for the Third Temple. Tearful Selichot (prayers for forgiveness from sin) were especially powerful, as they were from Jews who had given the ultimate sacrifice for Israel: the lives of their loved ones.
A powerful statement was made when the son of Dafna Meir, a mother of six who was fatefully stabbed outside her home in Otniel, stood to lead part of the Selichot prayers. His cries of, “God is King, God was King, and God will always be King”, were said three times, with the crowd emotionally repeating his words. This was followed by his cries of, “Please God, save us”, also repeated three times by the congregation gathered behind him.
The invitation sent to the families described the desperate situation:
We, who have lost our dear ones in recent months, will stand in prayer before the Creator of the universe at the Western Wall on the eve of the fast of Esther.
We will ask the Creator of the universe to stop these murder sprees throughout Israel. We will shout, we will pray, we will say to the Creator of the universe: Enough! We have suffered enough hate. We have suffered enough pain. We have suffered enough bloodshed. We want to fulfill our roles in light, happiness, rejoicing and glory.
We will ask the Creator of the universe to give wisdom, understanding and knowledge to the government of Israel to act with courage and might without fear to stop these murder campaigns that have continued for over half-a-year. We will hold on to the way of Queen Esther, who asked to gather all the Jews in prayer, and merited to adorn herself in courage and kingship and saved the nation of Israel .
We ask all those who are in pain to join us. So that there be a prayer of the masses. Prayer from the whole heart. As one person with one heart. A prayer of tears that open the gates of Heaven. And the Holy One blessed be He does not tire of the prayer of the masses.
Throughout the current terror wave which began in September, 34 innocent lives in Israel were abruptly ended by radical Palestinian activists. Sadly, the terrorism has also reached internationally: Just last Saturday, a suicide bomber in Istanbul targeted a group of Israeli tourists, killing four and wounding 11. No less horrific was a double bombing on Tuesday morning in Brussels which claimed the lives of 34 and wounded 198 others. The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the dual Brussels attacks.
The timing of the prayer was apropos, lending a special significance to the event. When all of the Jews of Persia were threatened by the evil Haman, Esther prepared herself to stand before the King and plead their cause by fasting for three days. All of Israel joined in the fast and Esther succeeded in her mission to save the Jews.
The holiday of Purim has a unique power for turning evil decrees against the Jewish people into good. May the families’ prayer overturn the pain and suffering and instead bring joy and celebration.