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July 12, 2002 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-12

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A Vigil For Zach

2: achary M. Talan Edelson had
a rare gift seldom possessed
by a 14 year old — that won-
derful ability to make every-
one around him feel special.
From the time I arrived at the Walnut
Lake Hills beach June 29 after Zach
tragically fell into the lake while tubing
with friends on a hot summer day—
until his body was recov-
ered three days later — no
less than a dozen parents
apprOached me with the
same statement, "My son
was Zach's best friend."
As word spread through-
out the community, the
scene at the beach grew
from the immediate family
into a gathering of hundreds of Zach's
friends and their parents — to friends of
Zach's mom and dad and friends of his
grandparents — all coming together to
offer love and support as this horrible
nightmare began to unfold.
Within hours, as the Marine
Sheriff's unit arrived, along with dive
teams, law enforcement and rescue

David Techner is a funeral director

with Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield.

teams, community chaplains and rab-
bis, the operation would change from
one of rescue to recovery.
Mark Twain once said, "Strangers
are just friends I haven't met yet." I
know personally that through this
tragedy my life has been enriched
through new friendships that have
been established, even though through
the worst of circumstances.
As I drove home from Walnut Lake, I
thought of Zach when I read the
bumper sticker that said, "Find a teacher
and you will have found a friend for
life." There were so many lessons that
Zachary taught throughout his brief life,
but so many valuable lessons were
learned from the circumstances that
brought our entire community together.

Touching A Community

Zach's loss taught an entire communi-
ty, Jewish and gentile alike, the value
and beauty of our 3,000-year-old tra-
dition. From their arrival until Zach
was found, his frinds committed to
staying on the beach fulfilling kavod
hamet, respect for the dead.
Our tradition commands that a
shomer, or watchman, stays with the

forced to confront this cruel
body from the time of death
reality. Parents, grandparents,
until the time of burial as a
friends, teachers, counselors,
sign of respect, of not leaving
school administrators and law
the body unattended. The
enforcement officials were all
shomer recites appropriate
forced to confront their own
prayers and psalms. Our
vulnerability. It's impossible to
entire community acted as a
not consider our own children
collective shomrim — united
and all of the similar circum-
in not leaving Zachary alone
TECHNER stances we have been in that
as we prayed and told stories
leads us to say, "There but for
of his life, laughing and crying
the grace of God go I."
while waiting for the news
that Zach had been found.
Zach's drowning taught us the true
A Debt Of Gratitude
meaning of the word "community."
The entire family of Zachary M.
From the Bloomfield Township
Talan Edelson has gone out of their
Police, the Oakland County Sheriff's
way to praise everyone involved in the
Department, the dive teams, it was
effort to find Zach and "bring him
clear that they too would stay until
home." The effort was extraordinary
their job was complete. Sheriff
and the compassion and professional-
Michael Bouchard, when asked at 1
ism was remarkable. Zach has taught
a.m. why he did not go home to his
so many of us that we are fortunate to
wife and family, responded, "It's
live in a country where the standard
because I have a wife and family that
of excellence is not followed, but
that I need to be here.-"
established. My newfound civic pride
Perhaps the greatest lesson taught to
will forever be a tribute to Zach.
us by Zach's tragedy is just how precious
All of us who came to be with the
and precarious life can be. In an instant
Talans and Edelsons owe them a debt
life can be taken without warning, and
of gratitude as well. In their darkest
in Zach's case, without any explanation.
hour, they opened their hearts to all of
There are several generations who were

Out-Of-Touch Government

n the 4th of July last week,
an Egyptian immigrant to
the United States who
believes in wild conspiracy
theories about Jews, is known for his
great "hate for Israel" and has possi-
ble ties to Al Qaida, armed himself
to the teeth and assaulted the Israeli
airline counter at Los Angeles
International Airport, killing two.
It is obvious why Hesham
Mohamed Ali Hadayet targeted Jews
in a highly visible place on so
prbminent a date: to engage in ter-
rorism against Israel. But one
important institution — the U.S.
government — claims not to know
Hadayet's goals. An FBI spokesman
has said that "there's nothing to
indicate terrorism." Another FBI
official said of Hadayet: "It appears
he went there with the intention of
killing people. Why he did that, we


Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle
East Forum. His e-mail address is




are still trying to determine."
Possible causes named include a
work dispute and a hate crime.
Sure, law enforcement should not
jump to conclusions, but this head-
in-the-clouds approach is ridiculous.
It also fits a well-established pattern.
Consider three cases of terrorism in
the New York City area:
• Rashid Baz, a Lebanese cab driv-
er with a known hatred for all
things Israeli and Jewish, armed
himself to the teeth in March 1994
and drove around the city looking
for a Jewish target. He found his
victims — a van full of Chasidic
boys — on the Brooklyn Bridge and
fired a hail of bullets against them,
killing one boy. And how did the
FBI classify this crime? As "road
rage." Only because the murdered
boy's mother relentlessly fought this
false description did the bureau
finally in 2000 re-classify the mur-
der as "the crimes of a terrorist."
• Ali Hasan Abu Kamal, a
Palestinian gunman hailing from
militant Islamic circles in Florida,
took a gun to the top of the Empire

terrorism away.
State Building in New York
• Damir Igric, a Croat
City in February 1997 and
immigrant from the former
shot a tourist there. His sui-
Yugoslavia, used a box cutter
cide note accused the United
to slash the neck of a
States of using Israel as its
Greyhound bus driver in
"instrument" against the
last October, caus-
Palestinians, but city officials
ing the bus to roll over,
ignored this evidence and
killing six passengers and
instead dismissed Abu Kamal
himself. Although this bus-
as either "one deranged indi-
Spe cial
hijacking scenario echoed
vidual working on his own"
entary similar attacks by
(Police Commissioner
Palestinians on Israeli buses,
Howard Safir) or a "man
immediately classified it "an
who had many, many enemies in his
isolated incident," not an act of ter-
mind" (Mayor Rudolph Giuliani).
rorism. The media attributed the
• Gamil al-Batouti, an EgyptAir
violence to post-traumatic stress
copilot, yelled, "I put my faith in
God's hands," as he crashed a plane
• Hassan Jandoubi, an Islamist
leaving John F. Kennedy
with possible connections to Al
International Airport in New York
Qaida, had started working at the
City in October 1999, killing 217.
fertilizer factory in suburban
Under Egyptian pressure, the
Toulouse, France, just days before a

National Transportation Safety
massive explosion took place there
Board report shied away from once
last Sept. 21. This, the worst catas-
mentioning Batouti's possible terror-
trophe ever in a French chemical
ist motives. Despite all the "world-
plant, killed Jandoubi and 29 oth-
has-changed" rhetoric following the
ers, injured 2,000, destroyed 600
horrors of last September, Western
dwellings and damaged 10,000
officialdom continues to pretend

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