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Mother of Terror Victim to Receive Jewish Feminism Award in US

Mother of Terror Victim to Receive Jewish Feminism Award in US
Rachel Fraenkel 1.6.2016 Bereaved mother of terror victim Naftali Fraenkel, Rachel Fraenkel at President Reuven Rivlin's Jerusalem residence before the Jerusalem Unity Prize ceremony. Naftali Fraenkel was one of the three Israeli teens who were abducted and killed by Hamas terrorists in June 2014.

Mother of Terror Victim to Receive Jewish Feminism Award in US

Written by Ilana Messika/TPS on September 18, 2016

Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old boy who was murdered by Hamas-affiliated Palestinians, and best-selling author Lihi Lapid have been chosen to receive the Pamela Claman Award at the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) in Maryland. The organization is dedicated to the empowerment of women to change the world through Jewish values.

“Getting an award from the JWRP  is a special honor,” Fraenkel told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “I think the organization does unbelievable work in gathering together women from around the world and from all streams of Jewish streams to permit them to re-center themselves as Jewish women.

“To receive this award alongside Lihi Lapid, who is an acclaimed feminist author, embodies that objective to connect women from different branches of Jewish society,” she added.

Fraenkel a mother of seven from Nof Ayalon, is one of Israel’s most prominent teachers of Talmud and Rabbinic literature to women. She is dean of students at Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, as well as the director of the advanced halacha (Jewish religious law) program at the Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies.

“Being orthodox, I am authentically and deeply committed to in the study of Talmud and Halakha, from general theology to the tiniest details of its application.” she told TPS.

When asked about the evolution of women’s representation within the Jewish public sphere, Fraenkel said the phenomenon is gradually developing.

“There is a growing number of women representing litigants in family courts;  religious law counsels in the realm of family purity laws; and there are also a few synagogues bringing women into leadership roles aside the community rabbi.

“The truth remains that under this evolution still lies a veritable revolution,” she added.

Fraenkel gained unwanted notoriety when her son, Naftali, was kidnapped with two other Israeli teenagers at the bus stop outside Alon Shvut, in Gush Etzion. The abduction sparked a massive manhunt known as Operation Brother’s Keeper, and was followed by Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.

During the crisis, Fraenkel spoke at the end of a United Nations Human Rights Council debate in Geneva calling on the international community to assist in the rescue of the missing teens, when the PLO and around 40 other states censured Israel for their actions against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

At her son’s funeral, Fraenkel became the first Orthodox woman to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish in front of cameras, in front of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau.

A year after the crisis, she was a key voice in establishing the Jerusalem Unity Prize, together with the City of Jerusalem, the Gesher organization, and the families of Gilad Shaer and Eyal Ifrach.

“Ms. Fraenkel is an example of someone who, when faced with tragedy, managed to comfort a nation and symbolize dignity and faith in times of severe adversity. She was thrust into the public limelight, and she rose to the challenge with grace instead of running away,” stated Lori Palatnik, founding director of the JWRP, to TPS.

The Pamela Claman Leadership Award is given to international role models who have significantly shaped the Jewish world with exceptional and inspired leadership and will be presented during the JWRP Leadership Conference between September 18 to 20.

“I think we all deal with loss with our own toolbox. Personally, I try to make room for dealing with the void and grief without shoving it aside but also without allowing it to overwhelm the space dedicated to moments of happiness as they come,” concluded Fraenkel.


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