I am sitting and staring at a blank screen, thinking how to put my thoughts and feelings into words. The only way I felt right in doing so was to write to the three of you directly. At 1:05PM in Westchester, NY, just after I had shared my prayers for your safe return with a synagogue group, I learned that you, our boys, are coming back, but you are not coming home to us as we dared to imagine and hope.

Around the globe people are pouring their hearts out for you and your families. All we wanted was for you to return safe and sound, and this tragic end has left us all mourning you as if you were our own.

You lost the most precious of all things we hold holy, your own lives. Our enemies targeted you to hit us where it hurts most, and it does. We are depressed at the thought of your empty seats at every Shabbat dinner. We are angry that you will never grow up to discover the riches of life. We are horrified at the vile hatred in the blood running through the veins of your murderers and the lack of appreciation for basic dignity and morality.

Yet, even from the abyss where your physical lives ended, you brought out the best in Am Yisrael and in humanity. You must know that you have united an entire people and beyond. Congregations gathered and prayed. Communities rallied and shouted. Individuals from around the world were guided by their moral compass to campaign on the ground and in the virtual jungles of social media on your behalf. We all followed every snippet of news and every alluring rumor that might contain a grain of truth to where you might be. Today we hurt and share our grievance together as one family.

We will grow stronger and we will grow wiser and yes, soon we will resume our petty bickering and arguing of our daily issues, but not before we fully mourn you.

You are our boys, you will forever be our boys. May you rest in peace.