June 25 will mark four years since Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Israel and taken to Gaza where he has been held prisoner by Hamas ever since. Despite requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross, no visits have been allowed. Even the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict has called for his release.
Judaism places a high value on redeeming the captive. I am not suggesting that as Americans, we encourage Israel to release prisoners in exchange for Gilad. I believe that is up to the Israelis to decide what course of action to pursue to secure his release.
However, there is no doubt that his capture and imprisonment are a violation of human rights, and on those grounds, we as the Kansas City Jewish community need to do what we can to raise awareness of his plight.
Remember Gilad during Shabbat services, in letters to the editor, on Facebook and through e-mails to your networks (see the yellow balloon campaign of United Synagogue), in letters to government officials and the Red Cross, on bulletin boards in your synagogues (see Stand With Us) and in your prayers. Gilad belongs to all of us. The Shalit family deserves to know they have our support.
We don't have the power to free him, but it is our responsibility to take an activist approach to raising public awareness of his case, to demand that Red Cross visits be allowed and to press for his unconditional release.