We haven’t seen our ninth grade son for a few days, as he’s off on an amazing adventure for the week with his yeshiva. So, when he called last night and I heard his voice for the first time in three days, I wanted to cry.
It’s only three days, you say. Chill out a bit, Mom.
But it’s not about the three days. It’s about the fact that I was so happy to hear my son’s voice, to hear about his adventures hiking and climbing and exploring and about the octopus they found today.
I was so relieved to hear his voice.
Because as I listened to him, I knew that the Ifrachs, the Shaaers and the Fraenkels will never, ever have this opportunity again. They will never pick up the phone to hear Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali say “I’m on my way home, Mom,” or “It was a great day today,” or “I’m really tired and will be there soon.”
And I can’t imagine the burning pain of that realization.
We are heading into heavy days in Israel. As a result of their kidnapping and murder, which brought unprecedented unity to all of Israel, the boys’ parents decided to do something with their pain that would create and encourage unity. Tonight and tomorrow are the Hebrew date when the boys were kidnapped and murdered. Tomorrow, on June 3 they will deliver the inaugural Jerusalem Unity Prize for 2015. As described on the Unity Prize webpage, “The Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali is a joint initiative between the families of Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, the three teens kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in the summer of 2014, together with the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat and Gesher.”
In addition, the families have called on the people of Israel, and around the world, to celebrate Unity Day.
So my children went this afternoon to Givat Oz V’Gaon, a nature reserve in Gush Etzion named in memory of the three. They participated in a special program in memory of the boys.
Today, there was a national drill held to prepare the country in the event of a multi-front war. When the siren sounded, my stomach dropped and I wanted to cry. I knew it was a drill, and I was still taken aback when I realized just how traumatized I still am by the events last summer.
My husband and I were at the Jerusalem Light Show with three of our boys last year on the night when the three boys were kidnapped. And I have trouble thinking about that event without feeling nauseous. Where was I at the exact moment when the boys entered that car? What amazing display of lights were we gazing at when one of the boys courageously picked up his cell phone and whispered to the police, “I’ve been kidnapped.” How large were the smiles on my boys’ faces as they gazed at the sounds and sights in the moment when the three were shot in cold blood, in the back seat of a stolen car?
These questions haunt me.
It’s not as if I could have changed history – jumped through time and gotten to the Alon Shvut trempiada in time to yell NO! DON’T GET IN THAT CAR! But the memory will remain with me of the juxtaposition of my boys’ happy memories and the simultaneous tragedy that befell our nation.
The days ahead will be ones of reflection, sorrow and memory…and hopefully unity. When I watch my children digging in the dirt, doing cartwheels, playing basketball and learning Torah, I will think of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali.
And if my high school son calls again tonight from Zichron Yaakov, from Caesaria, from hiking the Land and learning our history, I may just shed a few tears.