I know that when I send an email with such a title, you are expecting a cute picture of the next generation of Lustigs. Today, however, and for the past several days, I haven’t been too focused on the antics of our children.Everything we are doing here seems to be just going through the motions. We are constantly checking our emails and no text goes unread. If you receive a call from your child, the meeting you are in comes to a halt, and everyone understands that it must be answered — just in case.Even though it’s a 5 minute bike ride, I drove Pinchas to work today. As we drove to the next town, we passed the news crews filming at the trempiadas where three boys were kidnapped. So surreal when your backyard becomes the hottest news ticket in the country.What were these boys doing? Hitchhiking? I know, it sounds like a crazy, risk taking behavior – unless you need to get home for Shabbat and there is no decent public transportation and you’re too young to drive and even if you aren’t who can afford a car? And so our country has yet another resource that our enemies have learned to exploit – chesed. I guess there are lots of fingers to point and I’ll leave that to the talking heads, but if you’d like to know what the main response has been here, it’s been to encourage more drivers to stop and give people a ride so that they can get home safely. Guess it’s just how we roll.
Every public space has been turned into a place for a prayer vigil and once again, the psychologists and social workers are busy in the schools. I remember when I was in school and there was an assembly for one thing or another. It didn’t really matter what it was for, the main point was, we got out of having class.
When our children come home and they say that they missed two periods of learning because they had a special tefilla and then someone came to talk to the class, there is no joy in their eyes. They would so much rather have had a regular day. Especially when they report that one of the missing boys is the cousin of their classmate.
Tonight there were prayers at the Kotel, where thousands gathered. I attended a women’s tefilla at the midrasha, one town over, where the mother of Naftali Frenkel teaches. She was on the phone and was able to gain strength by hearing our tefillot. (The text is attached, if you are interested in using it.) Most amazing was the request of the mothers of the kidnapped boys to please include in our prayers the safety of the soldiers involved in the rescue. Despite their own personal hell, they are still thinking of others.
Due to our proximity to Hebron, we hear the helicopters and the sirens of army vehicles as they race by, and we are reminded not to be afraid, but to be grateful. So we bake cakes and cut up watermelon to bring to the Pina Chama just down the block so that when the soldiers have a break, they can get something sweet to eat and a cold drink before they head back out to find our boys. Boys finding boys. Some of them are my friends’ children. Next year it will be my child. Protecting us. Protecting our land. But despite the chesed and the pride and the strength, there is a deep, national pain. It cuts across all religious and political lines. I invite you to feel it along with us.
This is part of the areivut – the responsibility for one another and the unity – that is both the price and the reward of our land.
May we hear good news very soon,