“We will learn to sing again without you. Without your harmonies around our Shabbat table,” Racheli Fraenkel eulogized her son, Naftali Yakov, z”l.
Approximately two thousand mourners gathered under the hot sun on the dried grassy banks of Kibbutz Shalavim, to say their good-byes to young Naftali Fraenkel, murdered eighteen days ago by cold-blooded killers. As Nof Ayaloners, members of the Fraenkel family and many, many visitors set by foot to the Kibbutz, hundreds of water bottles were handed out in the extreme heat of the day. There was one lone sun umbrella. The numbers were unprecedented. Some successfully managed to find plastic chairs and others stood for the duration of the hour long service.
Rabbi Gideon, Nof Ayalon’s resident rabbi , his voice drenched in sobs, spoke about the mothers’ serving as the mothers of the entire Nation of Israel, paving the way for others to understand what is compassion, what is faith, what is wisdom, what it means to be a mother. “Raheli Fraenkel,” Rabbi Gideon said. “You are our Mother Rachel. We promise you as residents of Nof Ayalon, that you will never be alone, that we will always be there for your family, whatever you may need and that we will always keep Naftali’s spirit alive. Naftali and the other boys left this world as righteous, pure souls. How many people leave this world, in this state? Their spirits will continue to fuel our Jewish Nation in the same way that their kidnapping created a unity across the Jewish spectrum.”
Naftali’s grandfather’s eulogy, delivered with a broken heart, had political overtones. “We need strategic vision to solve our problems,” he said. “We need vision.” “What Jew doesn’t want peace,” he said. But we see who we are dealing with.”
Naftali’s father reminded the world that, at the end of the day, it was only because Naftali and the other boys were Jews, that they were killed. That there was no other reason.”
When it was Naftali’s mother’s turn to speak, there was no longer any distinguishing between tears and sweat rolling down the mourners’ faces. “Naftali, my beloved son, my wonderful son, my happy son, a boy that knows prayer, a boy who is sophisticated and yet full of innocence. You taught your own fingers how to play. You prepared for many more years of goodness. It seems that you have fulfilled your task in this world. You lived out days of love, of Israeliness, of Judaism, of a deep humanity coupled with love and purity,” she called out, in the bravest of voices. And then she proceeded to assure the mourners that none of our collective prayers have been in vain, that each and every prayer was heard. That it created something that we may not yet be able to comprehend. She thanked Makor Hayim, her son’s yeshivah, stating how she wished her son could have graduated from this institution. She thanked every member of her family, army, police and the government for everything that they have done for their family. She told us that they (the army) promised her they would return her son to her and they did. They fulfilled their promise.That it was not possible in this day and age to always be able to retrieve a body and that they had done just that. For that, too, she was grateful. She spoke about seeing the blessing throughout the pain that was inflicted, the coming together of a nation, whose spirit rallied together. She pleaded for this spirit to continue in the name of her son and the other boys.”