Area day school students hear from mother of murdered Israeli teen
Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
More than 350 students from area day schools came together this week to hear from Rachelle Sprecher Fraenkel, the mother of an Israeli teen kidnapped and killed by terrorists.
Fraenkel’s son, Naftali, was just 16 when he and two other Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar, were abducted and murdered in 2014.
During her talk at the Schultz Rosenberg Campus, Fraenkel fielded questions from the audience of seventh- to 12th-graders from Akiba Academy, Levine Academy, Mesorah High School for Girls, Torah Day School of Dallas, Texas Torah Institute and Yavneh Academy. Later that evening, Fraenkel was the featured speaker at the Center for Jewish Education’s Night to Celebrate Jewish Education honoring Leslie and Howard Schultz.
Here are some of the questions students asked, and Fraenkel’s answers:
- How did you survive this experience?
“We had unbelievable support from family, neighbors and all of Israel. And a nice amount of optimism. We believed that we were looking for boys that were still alive.”
How did you tell your other children that their brother had died?
“We told them one by one, alone. They walk into the room like a blooming flower and you just know you’re going to crush them.”
- How are your kids doing now?
“It hasn’t been easy, but thank God, we are doing well. We miss Naftali terribly but there’s a lot of joy in our family.”
- How has this changed your relationship with God?
“Before this happened, bad things were something that happened to other people. And then something bad touched me — my faith didn’t just suddenly go away. This was a lesson in humility and keeping my faith.
“…We all have fears. Most of the time the fear is worse than the experience itself. We have it within us to collect ourselves and get up.”
— Submitted by Sara Mancuso
BLEWS, DPD discuss opportunities of support
Recently, members of the Dallas Police Department and members of the BLEWS organization met to discuss ways in which the community-minded forum, consisting of members from the black and Jewish communities, might assist police officials in the work that they do to serve and protect the citizens of Dallas.
The monthly meeting was held at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Six members from the police department attended, including members of its community relations division, and veteran officers from the department.
“We extend our condolences to each of you for the loss that you sustained in July,” said Ken Glaser, the co-founder of BLEWS in North Texas. “We are interested in working with you, and learning how we as an organization can assist you in your efforts.”
Sergeant Shannon Browning, who performs charitable and mentoring work in Dallas when he is not serving as a police officer, said, “The police department is interested in working with groups such as yours. We believe that together we can make our city a better place for all of its people. We are grateful for your interest, and for your reaching out to the department.” Sergeant Browning said that many officers see their work as a calling.
Pastor Carl Sherman, a former mayor of DeSoto and BLEWS member, said that he appreciated the work of law enforcement officials, and that he believed that citizens must work with law enforcement to bring about peace and justice in our society. “We are all in this together,” Sherman said.
Officer James Songer, who regularly meets with business and community groups in downtown Dallas, said that he and other members of the department were available at any time to work with Dallas residents to promote togetherness, and to reach shared goals and objectives. “This meeting is very important,” he said.
Each of the 22 members of the BLEWS organization who were present commented, telling their guests that their organization was committed to creating a just and equitable society, and that they were personally committed to seeing that it became a reality.
— Submitted by Joe Green-Bishop
Honorable Menschen: Gabbi Butler
Gabbi Butler, daughter of Stacey and Chuck Butler of Dallas, takes fundraising seriously. For her bat mitzvah project, the 12-year-old Levine Academy seventh-grader rallied 27 friends and family members and formed Gabbi Goes for the Gold. The team participated in the Heroes for Children Heart of Gold 5K Run last weekend in Galatyn Park in Richardson.
Gabbi raised more than $6,000 and Gabbi Goes for the Gold was named the top fundraising team. The money raised goes to children who are surviving cancer. Gabbi sends a shout-out to thank all her friends and family for supporting Heroes for Children and making her mitzvah project such a huge success. She will celebrate her bat mitzvah May 6, 2017 at Temple Emanu-El.
Save the date: Nov. 10
AJC will honor Jeff Zlotky with the 2016 Milton I. Tobian Community Relations Award. The dinner is co-chaired by Jill and Adam Lampert, with Beverly Tobian serving as an honorary chair.