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YOUNG CHRISTIAN GIRL?S FUNERAL UNITES FAITHS AND RACES

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YOUNG CHRISTIAN GIRL?S FUNERAL UNITES FAITHS AND RACES

Abigail was killed along with 15 Israelis ? many of them schoolchildren - in a suicide bus bombing in Haifa on Wednesday. Born in the United States, Abigail?s family moved to Israel in 1989 when she was a few months old. She lived here ever since, attending public school and assimilating into the country.

Her coffin was draped with both an American and an Israeli flag.

?You were a true friend of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people,? said Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz (Likud). ?You were born in the United States but you chose to be here and stay here with us. You chose to give us a hand for the nation of Israel and the people of Israel.?

Steinitz said the flags draped over Abigail?s coffin symbolize the American and Christian support of Israel, but spoke of the Lietel?s faith, which had given them this special love and commitment to the Jewish people. In a significant gesture from a leading Israeli politician, he welcomed them and all Messianic congregations as partners in Israel?s national cause.

?On your coffin there was a cross, but on the flag there was the Star of David and this symbolizes the hope that you and your family mark for courageous and new friendship between us,? he said.

Abigail?s father, Philip Leitel, spoke in honest, raw emotions, as he paid tribute to his daughter, holding her Bible.

?The name ?Abigail? means ?joy of my father,?? he said. ?And truly she was that. She was happiness for all of us, especially for me.?

Philip recalled how they would talk about her faith, her dreams and what she wanted to do in the future.

?And I know all of this will not be,? he said. ?It is very difficult that she died and that many dreams died also. The tears are with me ? what I cannot do with her. But she is ok,? Philip said.

Abigail?s mother Heidi, Philip and siblings Josiah, Hannah, Elishua and Noah each laid a red rose on the grave in the Christian cemetery on the southern end of Haifa, flanked by hills and the Mediterranean Sea on either side.

Abigail?s grandfather read a letter he and his wife wrote, noting her signature wide-toothed smile.

?Our prayer is that through her life and now through her death that people with know the one God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ? the one true God,? John Leitel said.

Pastor Shmuel Aweida said he expected to dress up someday for Abigail?s wedding. When it was time to lower the casket into the grave, Aweida said, ?We arrived at the part I really didn?t expect so soon. This is true pain.?

Philip Leitel works for the Baptist community.

Pastor Daniel Yahav of the Peniel Congregation addressed the family.

?You came here and stayed here even though you knew of the dangers even for your children,? he said. ?As a Jew, as an Israeli, as a Zionist, and as a follower of Messiah, I want to say thank you.?
 
US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer said the two countries now share Israel?s suffering.

"She?s a true bridge between our two countries, having been born in the United States and now, eternal rest in Israel," Kurtzer said. "She?s a true bridge between our faiths."