Out of the grim savagery of another brutal execution by ISIS, comes a most inspiring tale. As has been widely reported, Steve Sotloff observed some Jewish traditions and rituals during his time of captivity, even while hiding the fact that he was Jewish.
When everyone was praying to Mecca he turned inconspicuously to face Jerusalem and recite the Shema. Steve even managed to fast last Yom Kippur by feigning illness! As noted in the very popular London Daily Mail headline "Heroic Steven Sotloff feigned illness so he could still fast for Yom Kippur." Talk about a Kiddush Hashem – what a sanctification of G-d's name!
If Daniel Perl reminded us, by the heroic way he died ("'My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish,'") of the unbreakable bond between the Jewish Neshama (soul) and Hashem (G-d), then Steve Sotloff taught us how to LIVE like a Jew, under any circumstance!
How courageous and how inspiring your observances are, Steve, to me and my children. How free and liberated you were, Steve, even while you lived your last year of life in chains. How perverted and pathetically shackled are your evil captors, even while brandishing those potent weapons.
To my fellow community members; together let us proclaim the "New Orleans Sotloff Initiative", where EVERY Jew in New Orleans, whose health allows, fasts this Yom Kippur. Fasting on Yom Kippur is about being a little elevated from the mundane for one day, allowing us to fully focus on our relationship with G-d.
Our dear brother Steven, may Hashem avenge your blood. From our part, we will never forget you. This Yom Kippur, as we work on our relationship with G-d, as we resolve to be better people, it is you who will serve as our guiding light!
May we quickly merit a world of redemption and Moshiach, when we will be reunited with Daniel and Steve, and we will then finally merit the better world they both so aspired to.