The entire worldwide Jewish community and many supporters of Israel are now grieving the deaths of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal.  Every person who followed the news the past two-and-a-half weeks felt as if they knew these wonderful boys and their families.  What touched me the most the past few weeks was the strength and faith of the boys’ parents, particularly that of Racheli Frankel.

Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of one of the kidnapped Israeli teens, speaks to CNN. (screen capture: CNN)Screen capture: CNN

Racheli Frankel was perhaps the most vocal of the parents.  She was the first to speak out on the kidnapping of her son and the one who courageously spoke before the UN Human Rights Council just after they lambasted Israel.  Racheli always spoke with grace, a faithful woman who never gave up hope that her son Naftali would be returning home.

The incident that stands out the most regarding Racheli occurred while she was praying with the other parents at the Western Wall.  Racheli told a group of Jewish school girls who were reciting prayers for the 3 boys not to lose their faith if their prayers weren’t answered and the boys weren’t returned safely.  The fact that Racheli took the time during all of her grief and worry to implore these girls not to lose their faith even if the worse happened – and we know now did happen – embodies the type of character that we should all strive to have.

Racheli did not have her own prayers answered that her son Naftali along with Gilad and Eyal would be returned safely, but I have no doubt that her faith is still strong.  In just a few short hours, the funerals for the 3 boys will take place in Modiin, Israel.  The families and their loved ones will unite to say their goodbyes to the boys that became “our boys”.  I have certain that Racheli will again speak with courage and encourage those to continue being faithful.

As a person who believes and prays, I thank Racheli from the bottom of my heart for her strength and faithfulness in spite of this nightmare.  Racheli, you are a shining light in this pit of darkness.  You helped me and those in Israel and throughout the world to hold to our faith, and I know that it is this faith which will help to comfort all of us in the coming days and weeks.