My son of 16 witnessed the terror attack yesterday. He was far enough to be out of harm’s way, but near enough to have the event forever branded on his soul. His text home spoke of the inability of those around to stop the bleeding and of cries of “Shema Yisroel” when hope was lost and when, for a brief moment, terror had the upper hand.

I read and reread his words both numb and in pain, but dumbstruck either way. Relieved that he was safe but devastated for those who weren’t. All I was able to respond was an “are you ok?” because nothing I would have written would have been adequate. And 15 hours later, it still feels like nothing is.

The 16-year-old boys from South Africa are studying at a school in the Gush for a few months. They had been briefed regarding security before traveling and their parents had been prepared. But none of us could have anticipated that a week into the program the brutality would come so close.

How does one comfort a boy child so far away, and indeed how does one comfort a nation? What are the words of comfort that those of us that live on the other side of the planet are able to provide to our brothers and sisters who are enduring so much? Are there any? We know that there is little to be said in a house of mourning and we are instructed to sit in silence until the bereaved leads us in conversation.

No doubt the anguished cries for retribution, for greater security and a firm hand will follow. No doubt the world, the United Nations and the USA will turn their gaze elsewhere. This is well read script. The pages are worn, the corners are discolored and we know how it ends. The funerals, the heartbreak and memorials, the trauma counseling, and the anger have been written and the process will be followed. Only it will do so without one of our own. As another has been taken from us.

There is talk amongst parents as to the safety and continuity of the program. The kind of talk that is dangerous and that secures victory for our foes. And whereas we are not like our enemies, in that we do not sacrifice our children, the only way we can comfort is make sure that our boys continue on their program. We need to make sure that they don’t leave and send the wrong message to their fellow students. Students who have dealt with more in the last year than many deal with in a lifetime. Our boys and our girls and all those on the various programs need to stay because those are the words of comfort that we can offer. This is way that we can sit in silence with our nation and recognize the magnitude of all that we are enduring.

May God protect us and our children.