I wasn’t planning on writing about the murder of Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali. In my sorrow, I had no thoughts or feelings to share that were not already being experienced most intensely by the whole Jewish people. Then a good friend of mine in Jerusalem, Hayah Eichler, conceived a profound and meaningful initiative for us to channel our grief and harness our tortured emotions — and I felt I must share it.
So often in the last 24 hours have we said, Yehi Zekhram Barukh: “May their memories be a blessing”. The Food Drive in Memory of our Boys turns this traditional Jewish honorific for the deceased into a plan of action: as well as praying that the memories of these boys be a blessing, we need to actively make their memories a blessing, by making the world a better place in the boys’ honour.
The idea is that for the duration of the shiva, people will donate three items to the needy — one for each boy — every time they go to the supermarket.
“Hopefully donation bins around the country will be flowing with food this week,” Hayah says, “as a testament to our ability as a nation and as human beings to channel our fear, anger, and hurt into good deeds that can better people’s lives.”
People are encouraged to leave a note on the Facebook event, so that the families may “find some small comfort in knowing that the memory of their sons is being honoured by kind deeds”. As with the prayers and psalms that people have been reciting, such acts of kindness will envelope the Yifrah, Shaar and Fraenkel families in warmth and love.
The last few weeks have seen a powerful surge of empathy, solidarity and togetherness in Israeli society. Watching from faraway England, it has been humbling and inspiring to see Israelis spontaneously lighting candles in Rabin Square and comforting each other at this terrible time. As Israel contemplates how to mark the boys’ brutal murder – there is talk of a new settlement in their name — I can think of no more powerful means of making their memories a blessing than by reaffirming our commitment to life, love and basic kindness. I hope readers will join.