Extended Family of Man

We live in concentric circles. These may be purely physical circles — such as home, block, neighborhood, city, state, country and planet.

On another level — much like an invitation list for a wedding — we go from immediate family, to uncles and aunts, to in-laws, to Rabbis and teachers, bosses and co-workers, friends, neighbors … and so on.

When we hear of a tragedy — natural or brutal — the first reaction is to check if it’s someone we know.

All of Klal Yisrael, to varying degrees, feels a kinship and heartache after the brutal massacre in Har Nof Tuesday of Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Hy”d, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, Hy”d, Rabbi Kalman Ze’ev Levine, Hy”d, and Harav Moshe Twersky, Hy”d. Their wives, yesomim, family, friends, neighbors  —and all of us — share in the mourning.

There was another victim, and many chareidim were among the thousands who came to give final respects at his funeral. The victim was from a wider one of the concentric circles, a Druze policeman who was shot trying to subdue the murderers.

Police chief Yochanan Danino eulogized Zidan Saif at his funeral on Wednesday, saying that the officer ‘ran into the heart of the murderous inferno, without fear.’”

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said, “We are burying a hero of the Israel police, who laid down his own body to protect the worshippers at the synagogue in Har Nof … His heroism cost him his life, but saved the lives of others. Zidan is a source of pride for his family, for the Druze community, and for the police and the people of Israel.”

Shas MK Rabbi Eli Yishai also spoke, addressing the deceased: “Zidan, you who sacrificed himself, proved extraordinary heroism and courage, and through force prevented further lives from being lost,” he said. “The heart of the entire Jewish people is with your family, and your name is engraved on our hearts forever.”

Ariela Sternbach, a chareidi resident of Beitar Illit, raised funds and organized buses from Yerushalayim to the Druze town of Kfar Yanouch in the Galil. “This policeman had so much courage. He lives in this country and he was not of the Jewish people but he put his life on the line for us and sacrificed himself for us,” Sternbach said.

Six thousand miles from Har Nof, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement that he was “horrified and heartbroken” by the terror attack. He added “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. New York City stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult time, and we hope and pray for a peaceful and secure future for all of its people.”

But the mayor went beyond a statement. He immediately issued an alert and beefed up security in shuls and Jewish schools throughout New York City.

“The NYPD is in close contact with its liaison post in Israel. We have increased our police presence at synagogues and other key locations around the city.”

As we reported yesterday, “Police Commissioner William Bratton said Tuesday that the city has beefed up security as a precaution, even as he stressed that there is no known threat. The NYPD is following developments in Yerushalayim closely and working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor any further developments.” Bratton added, “We ask the public to be vigilant, and if you see something, say something.”

We express our gratitude to the mayor and the chief of police for their support and concern. And we call on the administrations of all Jewish institutions in New York to take the alert seriously.

We all know who the real Shomer Yisrael is. But it our individual and communal achrayus to make every reasonable hishtadlus to protect our community — and to be vigilant for the wider community — circle upon circle, upon circle.