Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chabad Lubavitch holds crisis vigil

Register Citizen Staff

LITCHFIELD - About 15 people gathered Wednesday night to pray for those affected by the crisis in the Middle East.
Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach of the Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut led the vigil for Israel on Wednesday night at the Liorah Greenberg Jewish Center on Village Green Drive.
Eisenbach said that the lessons of the three weeks of fighting in Israel and Lebanon, started by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by the terrorist group Hezbollah, was for people to send love and kindness to those caught in the conflict with their prayers.
"If God wants to protect us, he has his ways," Eisenbach said.
Eisenbach prayed for not only the Jewish civilians in the embattled region, but also for the Lebanese civilians who are in harm's way.
Eisenbach ended the ceremony by wishing for true peace in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and everywhere else in the Middle East. One of the fundamental teachings of Judaism is to respect everyone, regardless of their race or religion, Eisenbach said.
After the meeting, Eisenbach said there was "no excuse" for the attacks by Hezbollah.
"What (the world) should do and what they won't do is get rid of the terrorists," Eisenbach said.
Eisenbach said that if the world doesn't halt terrorist actions in Israel's back yard, the world is next. Israel is blessed, however, that it doesn't need the world to take care of it and tell it what to do, Eisenbach said.
"Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself, but it has an obligation to defend itself," Eisenbach said.
Eisenbach said that Israel would likely have to eliminate Hezbollah to bring peace.
Malcolm Richard, 74, of Hollis Hills, N.Y., said that the idea of terrorism will always exist.
"(It's) very, very hard to kill an idea," Richard said.
"We can disarm the idea," Eisenbach said.
The conflict has hit close to home for Eisenbach and Richard. Eisenbach's sister, Shterna Gruzman, 40, was leading a camp for Jewish girls from around the world when Hezbollah's first missile struck Nahariya, a town in Israel. Eisenbach said that Gruzman is doing fine.
Allen Sausen, 57, of Torrington, related the current situation to the movie "Exodus" made in 1960 that was based on the founding of Israel in 1948. There was a scene in the movie in which Paul Newman's character had to bury his Jewish sister and said he hoped someday (Jews and Arabs) could live in peace, Sausen said.
"For the most part, it's no different (60 years later)," Sausen said.
Sausen then quoted former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir who said peace would only come when an Arab mother loves her child as much as a Jewish mother.
Sausen asked those in attendance after the vigil how Arab mothers could just give children up to commit suicide attacks.
Despite civilians being injured and killed during the conflict, Sausen said that the Israeli army asked Lebanese civilians to leave by dropping leaflets before bombing towns in Lebanon.
Richard questioned which path Lebanon wishes to go down.
"Do they (Lebanon) want to remain a state or a vassal of Syria?" Richard said.
Eisenbach wants the conflict to end so that all innocent civilians will be able to live peacefully.
Kevin D. Roberts can be reached by e-mail at

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