Lighting the torch

At a time when people are constantly arguing about the Israeli elections, I would like to highlight a positive Israeli moment that has personally touched me. It was announced on the 14th of April that three people will be lighting one of the Independence Day torches for the first time in Israel’s history. These three people are Iris Yifrach, Bat-Galim Sha’er and Rachel Frankel, the bereaved mothers of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali, respectively, who were kidnapped and murdered in June 2014.

At that time I was a soldier in training at the beginning of my military service, in the IDF Spokesperson’s Course. We did not have access to news on a regular basis; however, because of the nature of our work, the head of our course provided us with news updates every evening. On June 30th he announced that the bodies of the three boys had been found. I burst out crying. I was one of only three soldiers from Jerusalem, the only one who was religious as well the only one living beyond the green line, relatively close to Gush Etzion where the bodies were found. All these factors contributed to the fact that for the first time since 2004, when I made Aliyah, I felt a close connection to those who were involved in a terror attack. I had to leave the classroom due to my crying and was permitted to phone someone who could comfort me. I called my Imma, the person I wanted to speak to the most. I remember that phone call vividly because when I hung up, my heart went out to those mothers who would never receive such a phone call from their sons again.

Before the bodies were found, the three mothers went to address the U.N. on June 24th 2014. Rachel Frankel stated, “Mr. President, it is wrong to take children, innocent boys or girls, and use them as instruments of any struggle. It is cruel. This council is charged with protecting human rights. I wish to ask: Doesn’t every child have the right to come home safely from school?”

Since 2014, these three families have been promoting life, hope and the importance of unity. They have begun many initiatives, including The Jerusalem Prize for the Unity of Israel, which annually awards $28,000 and recognizes initiatives that promote the connection between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.

These woman are inspirational; they depict the beauty of Israel, the incredible strength, the bravery and the extraordinary measures it takes to make the world a better place. They are living examples of ‘Tikkun Olam’.

While many around the world, in social media, on campuses and in governments question and criticize Israel in various forms and fashions, these three women are the answer. They suffered an unfathomable tragedy and have strived to promote unity. They are making the world a better place and this year Israel will thank them for their contribution. We unite to promise them that we will never forget their loss and show them that their courage is admired and is an inspiration to all of Am Yisrael.

They will be lighting the torch in ‘Honor of the State of Israel’ on Independence Day, but they have been truly lighting that touch since June 2014.

About the Author
Netta was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and made Aliyah with her family in 2004. She finished two years of IDF service in April 2016, where she served in the IDF Spokespersons Unit working with American media in Israel such as The New York Times and CNN. She is currently a student at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem majoring in International Relations and Jewish History. She is also the co-founder of SIACH (students from Israel and America CHat), an initiative to create deep conversations and connections between American and Israeli Jewish students
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