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Memorial for slain Israeli boys

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The thin thread of hope many Brooklyners clung to for the safe return of three missing Israeli teenagers last week finally snapped on Monday, when their bodies were found in the West Bank.

The Ocean Avenue Jewish Center will hold the memorial service for the boys tonight at 8 pm, with Rabbi Melvin Burg presiding.

Dozens had rallied at Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park on June 26, calling on President Obama to take action the “bring back our boys,” in a variation of the popular #bringbackourgirls hashtag that called attention to the abduction of 300 schoolgirls by Muslim extremists in Nigeria in April.

When news reached organizers of the fate of the kidnapped boys — one of whom has family in Flatbush — they expressed frustration that their efforts had been futile.

“I think it’s absolutely horrible that these boys were probably dead the whole time and we were rallying to get them home,” said Thersea Scavo, chairwoman of Community Board 15, one of the sponsors of the rally.

A man who had loudly shouted “our voice for our boys” at last weeks rally, was rendered speechless when he heard the tragic news.

“What can I say?” said Ruslan Gladkovitser. “I’m not going to be able to say much because it’s like rubbing salt in wounds.”

In Midwood on June 29 — just one day prior to the news of the teenagers’ deaths — community members gathered to paint a “Wall of Conscience” for the boys, using bright colors to capture the hope that soon turned to heartbreak.

“We’re all so heartbroken about the news,” said Jeff Reznik, owner of J. Reznik studios, where the wall was painted. “The phone has been ringing off the hook.”

Reznik saw people gathering at the wall and crying after the news broke. He said his community feels the pain of the families, even from a distance.

“There’s a communal suffering,” said Reznik. “People 6,000 miles away are crying.”

The Wall of Conscience has become a memorial wall — though it’s unknown for how long. Reznik said the mural will be up for least a week, which is standard for the Jewish mourning period, but he said he is willing to leave it up longer if people visit it for introspection.

“We certainty will leave it up for seven days,” said Reznik. “It could be a place for meditation — we’re going to be flexible.”

Local elected officials who had addressed the rally last week, stressed that the boy’s fate was about more than politics and struck at the moral core of humanity.

“No child, no community should be used as collateral damage,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island), the grandson of Holocaust survivors. “This is much bigger than just Israel.”

“This horrendous outcome is a painful and glaring reminder of the evil that exists in this world,” said Councilman Chaim Deutch (D–Sheepshead Bay). “And I join with my colleagues and the international community in demanding justice for the murdered young men.”

Ocean Avenue Jewish Center [2600 Ocean Avenue between Avenues U and V in Sheepshead Bay (718) 743–5533] July 2 at 8 pm.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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