On Sunday afternoon, June 29, Chazaq held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate its new office, combined with a rally with many elected officials. Local rabbanim and community members attended as well as members of the press. People carried signs that stated “Bring our Boys Home” and that included photographs of the kidnapped boys who, we devastatingly learned on Monday, were murdered.
Yaniv Meirov greeted the crowd. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Congresswoman Grace Meng cut the ribbon along with Yaniv’s wife Leora in front of the new Chazaq office on Jewel Avenue.
Queens Borough President Katz praised the Chazaq organization for all it does to bring young people to the right path and all the programs it provides for teenagers and the community. She mentioned the irony of celebrating this organization, which does so much for young people, at the same time that we are rallying for support from the government to help bring back the three kidnapped children, now murdered. Melinda Katz stated that we are here speaking in Queens because the rest of the world is not speaking loudly enough. She expressed her pride in this borough.
Next, Congresswoman Grace Meng praised the work of Chazaq. She noted that she had brought her young son to the rally and explained to him how these boys were kidnapped. She declared her absolute support of Israel. She announced that Yaniv Meirov is now a member of Queens Board #6. She imparted that we want the world to know from the streets of Queens to the halls of Congress that we stand with Israel. She met with Gilad’s aunt in Washington. This incident, Congresswoman Meng acknowledged, is a parent’s worst nightmare. This gathering is sending a signal that we stand with Israel.
Next, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz shouted our message: Bring our boys home. This message needed to be delivered. We needed it to come from the White House. He said, bring this message to the president, the State Department, and our United States Senators. The silence is deafening. The parents flew to Geneva at their own expense to be greeted by the United Nations condemning Israel. What parent would not go to every means to rescue his child?
Following this powerful speech, Assemblyman David Weprin praised Chazaq’s work with young people in our community. “Where is the outcry from the world – from our country? One boy was a United States citizen. We have to speak out. We need more events like this.”
Next, Councilman Rory Lancman spoke briefly. He noted that his own 17-year-old son is in Israel and he spoke to him about staying safe. The next three speakers were three community members who recently travelled to Israel with Governor Mike Huckabee and met with the parents of the three boys.
Dr. Joe Frager shared the courage and heroism of the families and the State of Israel. He noted the force of unity evident in Israel due to this tragedy. He also mentioned the fact that President Obama has not spoken out about the kidnapping. (He can no longer speak out about the kidnapping; it is too late. We now know that they are no longer alive. And Naftali Fraenkel was an American citizen and deserved protection.)
A letter was read by Dr. Paul Brody from the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, Danny Danon. It stated that the Government of Israel knows which Hamas terrorists are responsible, and it was leaving no stone unturned. All of Israel are responsible for one another. As Americans, we are uniquely positioned. Contact US Senators and Representatives. They should send a clear message to the Palestinians that the United States cannot work with them when justice is not done for these three boys.
The rally and ribbon-cutting ceremony ended with a reception inside the Chazaq office.