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rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


RCA Statement on Highland Park Shooting

It is with a profound sense of sadness and weariness that the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading membership organization of orthodox rabbis in North America, mourns the victims of the most recent mass shooting during the July 4th parade in Highland Park, IL.

Rabbi Binyamin Blau, president of the RCA, said, “What was supposed to be a day of celebration turned into a day of mourning. We reissue our call for all Americans to engage seriously in a search for solutions to this epidemic of violence. Our present culture is clearly unhealthy, even if reasonable individuals can disagree on the root cause for this phenomenon, and we must take stronger measures to protect the safety of innocent citizens and to transform our society into a more civil and peaceful one.”

Rabbi Zvi Engel, first vice president of the RCA and a resident of the Chicago area added, “The death toll from gun violence in our great nation is staggering. We salute members of law enforcement and other first responders for their heroic efforts yesterday, and weep with the families of those murdered, maimed, and injured in the 309th mass shooting this year. As we fervently hope that the traumatized soul of the United States of America will soon find a way to heal, we look to our elected officials to do more to help us recover from this epidemic of violence.

On another note, you might recall that on Wednesday morning, May 11th, Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent Palestinian-American journalist working with Al Jazeera, was killed by a gunshot to the head while reporting from the Palestinian city of Jenin. Abu Akleh was covering a raid that was being conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Subsequently, Palestinian eyewitnesses, including her crew, said that Israeli troops killed her and that there were no militants in the immediate vicinity. Israel said she was killed during a complex battle with Palestinian militants and that only a forensic analysis of the bullet would confirm whether it was fired by an Israeli soldier or a Palestinian militant. It strongly denied she was deliberately targeted, but said an Israeli bullet may have hit her by mistake during an exchange of fire with a militant.

Ever since that fateful day, recriminations have been going back and forth regarding who was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death.  

On July 4th, I received the following email:

Dear Rabbi,

The United States and Israel conducted a thorough ballistic test, according to internationally recognized forensic standards. Due to the condition of the bullet and the quality of the marks on it, a conclusive result could not be achieved. Accordingly, it could not be determined whether the bullet was shot from the gun that was examined or not.

The IDF investigation determined that IDF forces did not shoot Shirin Abu Akleh intentionally. The USSC's announcement also determined that in any event, Abu Akleh was not killed intentionally.

It should be noted that Israel asked for the bullet from the beginning, due to the importance of finding out the truth.

The IDF was operating in Jenin in the first place because of deadly terrorist attacks that originated there.

Israel regrets Abu Akleh’s death, the freedom of the press and the protection of journalists are at the core of the Israeli democracy.

The IDF will continue to defend the citizens of Israel while doing its best to avoid harming noncombatants.

The Statement by Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the Investigation into the Death of Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh:  

The IDF will continue fighting terror whenever and wherever necessary. The IDF investigation was unable to determine who is responsible for the tragic death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but it was able to determine conclusively that there was no intention to harm her. Israel expresses sorrow over her death.

Tragically, hundreds of journalists have been killed in recent years in combat zones around the world. The State of Israel recognizes the importance of freedom of the press and safeguarding journalists as they carry out their duties.

As Prime Minister of Israel, I give full and unequivocal backing to the IDF soldiers who risk their lives to defend the citizens of Israel from terrorism and who work around the clock for the security of Israel.

Israel Nitzan

Deputy Consul General

Consulate General of Israel New York

800 Second Avenue

New York City, N.Y. 10017

Office: 212-499-5454

Twitter: @IsraelNitzan