Johannesburg Jewry rallies for Gilad Shalit

Kidnapped by Hamas terrorists more than 4 years ago

Incarcerated in solitary isolation

No visits from family, Red Cross or government officials

Humanitarian abuse of the worst kind!

Johannesburg Jewry rallies for Gilad Shalit!

The Jewish community took to the streets of Johannesburg in a great show of support and solidarity with kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Under the aegis (and meticulous planning) of the SA Zionist Federation, members of the community congregated in the heart of leafy suburbia where we then boarded open top double-decker buses and armed with our flags, signs and a great deal of spirit made our trek through the streets of Johannesburg.

Buses made their way through Johannesburg’s central business district to the curious stares (and more than a few cellphone photographs) of onlookers and then through the campus of Wits University and Melrose Arch business and leisure centre. Bellowing our calls to “free free Gilad Shalit” we drew an enormous amount of attention from a smorgasbord of Joburgers! From Cosatu strikers to business folk and everyone in between, the loud demand to FREE GILAD SHALIT rocked the city like a highveld summer thunderstorm.

We then wound our way back to the James and Ethel Gray Park where the gathering crowd were addressed by amongst others, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, SAZF Chairman Avrom Krengel and Yaara Winker, a close family friend of the family. Krengel then handed over a mandate on behalf of the SA Jewish community to Nathan Banda, Director of the South African branch of the Red Cross. (see attached document).

Next week we welcome a new Jewish year. For the Shalit family it will be the 5th year without Gilad. Few of us, if any, can comprehend the emotional strain and hurt this family experience everyday. Is he healthy? What conditions is he being kept in? When will we see him?

We ask everyone to keep Gilad ben Aviva in your prayers this Rosh Hashanah.

As a community we add our voice to the international campaign calling for the release of Gilad Shalit. As South Africans we ask our government who enjoy discourse with those who hold Shalit captive to influence decisions which could lead to his speedy release. As human beings we demand his access to human rights organisations and humanitarian aid.

We hope that this year will see him safely reunited with his family.

Free Gilad Shalit.

Shana Tova.