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Brooklynites rally for missing Israeli boys

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Update, 3:15 pm: The bodies of the three missing Israeli teens have been found near Hebron, according to reports.

Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park filled with voices on June 26 calling for action to free three missing Israeli teenagers — one with relatives in Brooklyn — believed kidnapped on the West Bank two weeks earlier.

Dozens turned out with shabbat candles, yellow ribbons, and hand-written signs to the “Bring Back Our Boys” rally hosted by Community Board 15 and the Be Proud Foundation of Sheepshead Bay. Several elected officials and community leaders addressed the crowd — some in English, some in Russian, some in Hebrew — with emotional anecdotes, calls to action, and pleas for prayers for the missing boys.

“I am really horrified, as a grandson of Holocaust survivors, that still to this day — June 2014 — there are still Jewish people who have to fear where they walk around,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island).

Treyger said the abduction was an attack on every free nation — and called silence surrounding it a betrayal.

“Whether you live in London, whether you live in Paris, whether you live now in Berlin — any nation that claims to be freedom-loving nation should be horrified by what is taking place right now in our world,” said Treyger.

Rally attendees did their best to break that silence.

“If showing up here will be one more voice, it will be my pleasure,” said Khamida Tillovea.

“We gathered here to give support to all parents, hostages, and all kidnapped children around the world,” said Ruslan Gladkovitser,

One speaker said that speaking out about the abduction was everyone’s obligation.

“This is not just a Jewish issue,” said Michael Miller, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Inc. “This is a human rights issue.”

Supporters of the missing boys have sought to raise awareness of their plight with the Twitter hashtag #bringbackourboys, modeled after the #bringbackourgirls tag that brought worldwide attention — even from the White House — to the abduction of 300 schoolgirls by Muslim extremists in Nigeria in April.

“Mr. President, all we ask of you is to accord all children equal treatment, whether Nigerian or Israeli,” said Thersea Scavo, chairwoman of CB15, reading from a petition she asked the attendees to sign.

Some speakers and rally attendees got sharply political, blaming the Palestinian political party Hamas for the boys’ disappearance — which that group has denied — but one speaker took pains to refocus the rally on the safety and wellbeing of the missing teenagers.

“It’s not about the press conferences or press releases. It’s about praying,” said Councilman Chaim Deutch (D–Sheepshead Bay). “This is non-political to me.”

The crowd was mostly Jewish, but included a cross-section of the borough’s races and creeds.

“People came from different backgrounds, different nationalities, different religions,” said Raisa Chernina, the executive director of the Be Proud Foundation, a Russian heritage group. “This is Brooklyn.”

Updated 5:04 pm, June 30, 2014
Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
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Reader feedback

Chrisie from Sheepshead Bay says:
Sad end to a sad story. All 3 boys bodies were found in the West Bank area of Hebron. May they rest in peace.
June 30, 2014, 1:38 pm
David from Mill Basin says:
I pray the dogs who did this are caught soon, very soon, and suffer a great deal before being put to death inhumanely....maybe put them in a cage and leave them to die in the desert.
July 1, 2014, 5:49 pm

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