One year ago, the Jewish people suffered a staggering blow. On the evening of Rosh Chodesh Adar II 5768, a gunman burst into Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. For fourteen agonizing minutes, the sweet sounds of joyous Torah study were silenced by the deafening sound of gunfire. Eight talmidim from Mercaz Ha'Rav and Yeshivat Yerushalayim L'Tzeirim were murdered and eleven more wounded.
This horrific crime was more than an attack on one group of yeshivah talmidim. It was an attack on the Torah itself, the very heart of our people. Tens of thousands of Jews from across the entire spectrum of Klal Yisrael joined the funeral procession of the eight martyred talmidim and wept bitter tears over the tragedy that had befallen us and our Torah.
As the first yahrzeit approaches, men, women and children are gathering to pay homage to the eight holy martyrs — eight living Sifrei Torah — whose hearts beat to the rhythm of the Torah and who perished with its holy words on their lips. By marking this occasion with public Torah learning, thousands of participants are uniting under the banner of the Torah, recognizing it as the ideal for which these young men lived their lives, and proclaiming it as the source of the Jew's unconquerable spirit.
- During the eight days leading up to the yahrzeit, schools all over the world will learn a special selection of eight mitzvoth in memory of the martyred talmidim, who exemplified these.
- On the yahrzeit, there will be many siyumim of the entire Torah and the Talmud in which tens of thousands of Jews will have participated.
- Eight new Sifrei Torah were written, one for each of the martyred talmidim. Following the siyumim, the Sifrei Torah will be presented to their families for placement in their respective shuls.
In this time of darkness and tragedy, we unite with people from all walks of Jewish life to reaffirm our dedication to the Torah, to each other, and to the eternal life of the Jewish people.