Hadassah's Members, Associates and supporters join the worldwide Jewish community in celebrating Gilad Shalit's homecoming.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Shalit home and reunited him with his family.
"Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain," stated Netanyahu. "In recent days, we have all seen national unity such as we have not seen in a long time. Unity is the source of Israel's strength, now and in the future. Today, we all rejoice in Gilad Shalit's return home to our free country, the State of Israel. Tomorrow evening, we will celebrate Simchat Torah. This coming Sabbath, we will read in synagogues, as the weekly portion from the prophets, the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:7): 'To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.' Today, I can say, on behalf of all Israelis, in the spirit of the eternal values of the Jewish People: 'Your children shall return to their own border [Jeremiah 31:17].' Am Yisrael Chai! [The People of Israel live!]." Click here to read Prime Minister Netanyahu's complete statement.
Today, Hadassah National President Marcie Natan released the following:
"I know that all Hadassah members, Associates, and the entire Jewish community share my elation at the news that Gilad Shalit is safely in Israel with his family after five long years in captivity. Our joyful holidays have been made even more wonderful by this news. May Gilad be strengthened by the continued support and love you have all given over the years.
Even as we celebrate these happy days, let us all continue to pray for the release of Israel's remaining captured soldiers."
Gilad Shalit has been on the minds, and in the hearts, of Hadassah members throughout his captivity. In July 2011, Marcie Natan cited Shalit in her first speech as Hadassah's new National President. In her installation message she spoke for Hadassah, and Zionists everywhere, in demanding Gilad Shalit's immediate release. In 2009, then Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk met in Israel with Gilad's father Noam to express Hadassah's support and concern.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) released a statement last week. "This is a magnificent moment for the people of Israel, those of us who have been working for Gilad's release the past 5 years, and, above all, for the Shalit family," said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles added, "We are immensely relieved that this painful chapter for Israel and the Shalit family appears finally to be ending. How appropriate that this announcement coincides with the beginning of the holiday of Sukkot, known in Hebrew as z'man simchateinu, 'the season of our rejoicing.'"
This summer, the JCPA started the What Gilad Missed campaign to call attention to how long Gilad Shalit was cut off from the world. Thousands took part to spread the word, contribute, call for his release and share their thoughts with the Shalit family.
To learn more about Gilad Shalit and send him a welcome home message visit Meetgilad.com, presented by the American Zionist Movement.