And it was for a happy reason. I knew that while I was asleep, safe in my bed, Gilad Shalit’s transfer from captivity to freedom (and that is a loaded image and I will get there) took place. I looked immediately to my twitter feed and saw that my own worst fear did not come true, thank God, Gilad is alive. I stared to cry tears of joy.
On Sunday, I taught about ushpizin, the tradition of welcoming biblical ancestors into the Sukakh, as we welcome others. I mentioned the emerging news about Gilad Shalit’s release and several parents had no idea what I was talking about. I know that I spend a lot of my time in a particular Jewish bubble, but I was in shock that these parents did not know what I was talking about.
Gilad’s release, I even speak about him as though I know him, is wrought with controversy. Gilad Shalit’s release was a part of a much larger prisoner exchange. I am not entirely aware of all of the details. I think that is telling. There are also a lot of ethical issues, of course, too. Jewish tradition is fairly clear, though. You can read more about this from people who know a lot more than I do. Here is what Rabbi David Ellenson, my teacher, has to say. Here is what Rabbi Avi Weiss wrote, as well. Here is what Donniel Hartman, who I studied with this summer, had to say.
Every time the prayer for healing was read at the congregation where I worked in Toronto, Gilad Shalit’s name was mentioned. Though Gilad’s name might come off the list and his picture might be removed from our Sukkot as one of the ushpizin guests and those who set a place at their Seder table at Passover for him will not have to do so anymore.
Gilad Shalit’s ordeal is not over, of course. We do not know what he had to go through during his five year and four month period of captivity. The physiological injuries will heal, though the psychological trauma will be lifelong. His own adjustment to life will be interesting to observe and people are talking about it,
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם, מתיר אסורים – Praised are YOU, Ruler of the Universe who frees the captive.