MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Rabbi of murdered South Florida journalist Steven Sotloff spoke out one day after the a video showing his execution was posted online.
Rabbi Terry Bookman of Temple Beth Am has stood by Shirley and Arthur Sotloff since their son was taken hostage last year and shares in their pain.
“[Arthur] broke down for the first time and really wept in my arms and I wept with him,” said Bookman. “And Shirley is on the floor. It’s overwhelming. This is her boy. [Steven] talked about coming home and raising a family giving them grandchildren. All those dreams, it’s still hard to believe that they won’t see him grow up.”
As a kid, Sotloff went to school at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, where his mom is a preschool teacher.
Sotloff attended UCF and later moved to Israel to study. He got a dual American-Israeli citizenship and secretly practiced Jewish religion in captivity.
While being held hostage, Sotloff’s family had to conceal his connection to Israel and Judaism, erasing everything online that made mention of it.
“Why add to his danger by letting people know that he’s Jewish,” said Bookman. “There was a concern that we didn’t want to create a Daniel Pearl situation where when they knew Daniel was Jewish. They killed him for that reason alone.”
Daniel Pearl was a journalist with dual American-Israeli citizenship, murdered by Al-Qaeda back in 2002.
This time it’s ISIS militants who executed Sotloff on video as payback for U.S. air strikes in Iraq.
Friends said the 31-year-year old journalist risked his own life to report about the suffering in Syria with humanity and truth.
“Steven did the work he did not because he was naive, Steven knew exactly what he was doing. Steven was a very brave guy, a soldier of peace,” said Moti Kahana, a friend and Israeli who also works as an activist for the Syrian opposition. “He went inside to get the story, what’s happening to the Syrian people. He went inside and pretty much sacrificed his life.”
Kahana said he is confident Israel won’t rest unit Sotloff’s family gets some sense of closure.
The Israeli people will do whatever it takes to get an Israeli citizen back to burial, and American citizen back to Florida,” said Khana. “The person behind the mask… I can guarantee him the Israeli’s will not stop looking for him and they will find him.”
In lieu of a funeral, a memorial service for Sotloff is scheduled for Friday at 1:00 pm at Temple Beth Am. The public is welcome to attend.
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