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With Souls in the Balance: A Statement by the Rabbinical Council of America on the Release of Gilad Shalit  
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Oct 19, 2011 -- Together with millions of Israelis, Jews, and others around the world, the members of the Rabbinical Council of America express our heartfelt joy, immense relief, and thanksgiving to God, upon the safe return of Gilad Shalit to the embrace of his family, his friends, and the Jewish people. May he, and his brave fellow men and women in uniform, enjoy God's blessings and protection in their sacred mission to defend Israel, our precious homeland.

That Gilad's freedom was bought with the release of many hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, so many of them guilty of heinous crimes of terror and mass murder, gives all of us pause for sober reflection and concern. The excruciating decision that might yet allow cold-blooded killers to return to their murderous ways - indeed, even the act of negotiating with, and thus potentially strengthening, a terrorist organization that holds innocent hostages - could not have been easy for the leadership of Israel. We sympathize with those whose beloved family members, friends, or fellow servicemen were killed or maimed by these very terrorists who today celebrate their undeserved freedom, and well can we understand their pain as the so-called heroes are welcomed in the streets and towns of Gaza and elsewhere.

But for today, let us celebrate and be thankful for Gilad Shalit's freedom.

May God bless the State of Israel.

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