Dear Rabbis and Community members-
Erev Tov, Good Evening.
When I decided to plan this evening I had no idea how much it would affect me. I had no idea that when I looked back on Rabin's life all the emotions, the grief, the sorrow came back to me like it was yesterday. I care deeply about this man. Every time that I look at Yitzhak Rabin it brings tears to my eyes. I can't be apathetic to the man who did the impossible to make peace in Israel. He was a wonderful man that everyone respected and admired. Tonight Rabin we are honoring you. You did so much for us and now it is our turn to give back to you.
On November 4th, 1995 the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated. On November 4th, 1995 Israel lost a man who made history, a man who was the history of Israel. Yitzhak Rabin was an Israeli politician, statesman, general and the Prime Minister of Israel, twice. He was there in every moment, in every war that Israel fought; he was there in the first fifty years of Israel, Sometimes in the center sometimes in the corner. But if you ask me he was there always in the right position.
On that evening of November 4th, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords. This agreement was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Israeli Palestinian conflict. Rabin had been attending a mass rally at the Kings of Israel Square (now called Rabin Square) in Tel Aviv, held in support of the peace. When the rally ended, Rabin walked down the city hall steps towards the open door of his car, at which point the assassin fired three shots at Rabin. Two shots hit Rabin, and the third lightly injured one of Rabin's bodyguards. Rabin was rushed to nearby Hospital, where he died on the operating table within 40 minutes. I want to read the last speech of Rabin, a speech he gave just a few minutes before he died:
“Permit me to say that I am deeply moved. I wish to thank each and every one of you, who have come here today to take a stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I am privileged to head, together with my friend Shimon Peres, decided to give peace a chance -- a peace that will solve most of Israel's problems. I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace and are ready to take risks for peace. In coming here today, you demonstrate, together with many others who did not come, that the people truly desire peace and oppose violence. Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated. This is not the way of the State of Israel. In a democracy there can be differences, but the final decision will be taken in democratic elections, as the 1992 elections which gave us the mandate to do what we are doing and to continue on this course”.
While I am reading Rabin's last words it takes me back to that night, 18 years ago, when I was only 5 years old. I remember looking at my parents and my siblings grieving and couldn’t understand what was going on. I asked my mom what happened, why is everyone crying? But she was speechless. She couldn’t find the words to explain that our prime minister was murdered because he tried to make our life in Israel safer and better. She couldn’t explain that our prime minister was murdered by one of us, an Israeli Jew who couldn’t agree with Rabin's ideas and actions.
Israel is a very complicated country; we have lot disagreements within our people. But no one ever thought that murder amongst our people would ever happen. No one ever thought that someone would decide to kill Rabin because he did not agree with his agenda. One Jew who lived in a democratic country and who didn't agree with the opinion of another Jew chose the path of violence in an attempt to shape the future of a whole society. Regardless of what opinions we might have on the Oslo Accords – We all agree as Jews, educators and human-beings – that violence should never be an option in a democratic country. This person took his power and used it to do a terrible deed., Rabin used his power to do good and to bring peace and quiet to the Jewish people.
We as Jews have a choice. We can ignore our power, or we can choose to use our power to do good things, to give to another, to care, to love and to do the best that we can to make this world, the Jewish world a better place. I made my choice, what about you?