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July 1, 2014 2

Looking for Meaning in the Tragedy of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali

Today, thou­sands across Israel gath­ered  to remem­ber and mourn Naf­tali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who were found dead 18 days after their abduction.


Con­cern for the fate of the 3 teens, Naf­tali, 16, Gilad, 16 and Eyal, 19, mobi­lized Israelis and their sup­port­ers around the globe.   Prayer vig­ils and ral­lies were held, social media cam­paigns launched, across Israel vol­un­teers lined up to search for the boys and to pro­vide sup­port and sus­te­nance to the fam­i­lies and the searchers.

Now, just as Israelis united in sup­port for the boys, they are join­ing together to mourn and search for mean­ing in this tragedy.

Many are tak­ing lessons from the teens’ fam­i­lies whose com­po­sure and pub­lic strength through­out this ordeal inspired and amazed.   As colum­nist David Wein­berg relates in Yis­rael Hayom:

“(The) bereaved par­ents mod­eled for us not just indomitable per­sonal char­ac­ter. They mod­eled for us spir­i­tual strength; a healthy blend of reli­gious devo­tion and ratio­nal­ity. Of this-worldness and other-worldness. Of prag­ma­tism and val­ues. Of self-interest and self­less­ness. Of coolly cal­cu­lated tac­tics and naturally-flowing love…They gave Israelis a model for reli­gious com­mit­ment, national unity and broth­erly love not only in times of cri­sis but also in every­day life; through­out all reg­u­lar sea­sons of our rough-and-tumble spiritual-social-political life.”

Mem­ber of Knes­set, Dov Lip­man, writes in The Jerusalem Post, that while the cri­sis height­ened the sense of Jew­ish unity, it is always there:

“I view these last 18 days as a gust of wind.  The air is always there but it takes a gust of wind to remind us that air sur­rounds us at all times. The unity, love and car­ing among Jews is always there. These last 18 days sim­ply reminded us of this phenomenon.”

And for Amer­i­can immi­grant to Israel, Judy Krasna, reflect­ing in The Times of Israel , the mes­sage today is about Israeli unity and resiliency:

“After eigh­teen years in Israel, I have learned that we honor our dead by liv­ing. No one that I know wanted to go to work today, but every­one that I know went any­way. It’s what we do in the face of tragedy. We func­tion. We may take a break to cry every once in a while, but we do what we need to do. Our thoughts are never far from those three boys and their fam­i­lies; there are no dis­trac­tions great enough to dull our pain…So today I am going to leave my house. If I start to cry in the mid­dle of the pro­duce aisle, no one will look at me as if I have lost my mind. Chances are that a total stranger will offer me a tis­sue to wipe my tears and then take out a tis­sue to wipe her own.”