Commack memorial service held for slain Israeli teens

Skyla Peltzman, 7, is hugged by her mom

Skyla Peltzman, 7, is hugged by her mom Blayne, both of Melville, during a memorial service honoring the memory of the three Israeli teenagers found murdered near the West Bank yesterday following their kidnapping two weeks prior. The memorial service took place outside the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack on July 1, 2014. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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About 200 people attended a memorial service in Commack yesterday for the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed on the West Bank, sparking international outrage.

The service was led by Rabbi Steven Moss of B'nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, with Christians and Muslims in attendance.

"As Jews have done throughout history . . . we will pick ourselves up and move on to the future," Moss said before the event.

People gathered near a large menorah outside the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center.

Beverly Kasper, 66, of Mount Sinai, came to lend support to the grieving families in Israel.

"My heart goes out to the mothers -- to the fathers, too," she said. "I just felt I needed to be with people; it's a support system."

Dr. Hafiz Rehman, who serves with Moss on the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, told the crowd, "I stand here in grief with you. I am a proud American Muslim, but that does not make you an enemy."

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He called for a dialogue among Americans of all faiths to send "a message across the ocean: We can live together and share the bounties of the world together."

An evangelical Christian, the Rev. Don Gercia of Abundant Life Church of God in Holbrook, said, "I wanted to come here not only to express my condolences, but my solidarity with the people of Israel."

Rabbi Tuvia Teldon of Chabad Lubavitch of Long Island urged those in attendance to respond to the evil of the teens' slayings with good deeds.

"We have to make sure their light is never extinguished," he said.

The gathering was organized by the Eastern Long Island Jewish Alliance, a group of community and religious leaders. The alliance had been planning to hold a rally later this week to support the teenagers' families -- until the bodies were discovered Monday under a pile of rocks in a field north of Hebron.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, were hitchhiking home from the Jewish seminaries they attended near the West Bank city when they were kidnapped and killed by the Hamas militant group, Israeli officials say.

Yifrah, Shaar, and Fraenkel were buried next to each other Tuesday in the central Israeli town of Modi'in at funerals attended by tens of thousands of mourners.

With the AP

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