For a variety of reasons I did not pay a shivah call to any of the families of our precious boys. However, along with all of our nation I watched as the incident played out in our land and on the news. And, like many others, I became enamored with the mother-spokesperson, Rachel Frankel.
I ran into a café yesterday to get a quick coffee and there she was, eating eggs. Just like a regular person. I did not immediately rush over to her and hug her. First, I thought. How annoying is it really to be hero worshiped over breakfast? She’s eating in an out of the way place; that was probably on purpose. My husband spoke up and brought me out of my contemplation. He told me not to go over. At that moment I realized that not going over to her was never an option. When I went up to her I told her that. I told her I simply could not just walk by her. I told her how sorry I was. I told her that she made me so proud to be part of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yirael, Medinat Yisrael. She was the perfect spokesman for us as a nation. She stood as a beacon of truth and light in a world that sometimes feels as if darkness reigns. She squeezed my hand. I apologized for bothering her and told her to enjoy her eggs.
When someone has a spotlight on them, when they become famous, there is a phenomenon that develops where we, the viewers of the spotlight, project our own feelings about the person onto him or her, in essence creating that person in our own image. Many times our image of the now famous person is totally off base. Having chosen not to read many of the follow-up articles about the boys’ families following their funerals, I can not tell you exactly who Rachel Frankel is; seriously, even I know that one half a minute conversation over eggs does not make me a Rachel expert. My hero worship of her is based on these facts/assumptions only:
Before Naftali, Gil-ad and Eyal HY”D were kidnapped, I assume that Rachel got up every morning. She took care of her kids, worked, spoke to friends and lived a generally normal life. Out of nowhere she was thrust into the spotlight in the midst of an unimaginable circumstance. Yet, she got on T.V. She thanked everyone. Repeatedly. She spoke eloquently, gracefully, humbly and sometimes even nervously. She spoke in two languages. She flew to a foreign country and faced down an unfriendly institution. To say she rose to the occasion sentenced to her would be a vast understatement. She soared. In the spotlight she shone. She was an intelligent and passionate Jewish voice. She redefined the word “strength.” She represents exactly what we need and who we are in these trying times. That’s why I look up to her.
Her strength is echoed in so many of us. I see it on the news, in Facebook posts and in the “Safe Room Selfies.” We are a nation of passionate, strong men and women. Push us and you’ll see. I am going to take a page from Rachel’s book and face these times with all the grace and eloquence I can muster. I am going to set a positive example for my children and anyone else who might be looking. I will not back down. I will go to the pool, I’ll hit up the mall. I will pray for my brethren all over our great country, and for our soldiers who are fighting to protect us. I will go to a safe room when the siren wails, and I will come back out singing with my children. I will continue on.
I will use Rachel’s example how to accomplish these goals. I’m glad that I spoke to her. I hope I didn’t ruin her eggs; talking to her made my coffee just a little bit sweeter.