Monday, June 30, 2014

From Hope to Heartache in 24 Hours

I don't really know how to begin this post. Being in Israel during the last two weeks has given all of us a different connection to the story of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. We were here when the boys were kidnapped in the West Bank on June 12, and we are here now that their bodies have been found. We have been here for all the time between those days to see how the country has been affected by the situation. Just last night around 7:30pm a rally was held in Tel Aviv at Rabin Square. There were performances and the mothers of the three boys spoke to the crowd. 

In an article I read about the event the mother of Naftali Fraenkel was quoted saying, "We feel embraced by many people, and we wanted that the event should be a general one that would include everyone. Our message is one of solidarity, one for all and all for one - haredi Israelis, secular Israelis, Bedouin, Druze, and Muslims who have a conscience."

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event, but several others from our group went. I asked them to share a little bit about their experiences. Some of the endings were changed after the news broke tonight, and some were written after as well. 

Justin Kirschner:

"The demonstration was sentimental with an optimistic overtone. The sight of Rabin Square filled with people reveals the community aspect that is Israel. The lights and music combined with the songs and prayer was an incredible moment to experience."

Daniel Valentini: 

"The demonstration was a great experience. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but it ended up being a series of singers and speakers and it was a pretty good time. Even though I couldn't understand a word of what was being said, it felt good to show solidarity and be a part of something bigger in Tel Aviv."

Sarah Deutsch:

"Yesterday a few of us went to the demonstration for the 3 boys in Rabin Square. Seeing the community come together as one was incredibly special. It's amazing how even though we don't know the language, we know exactly what is being said. There were hundreds of people there, the news and everything. This event just took our breath away, we were speechless. The sadness was overwhelming."

Jordan Della Bella:

"Witnessed something amazing last night. I still can't believe I'm in a country that has three loved ones missing from their homes. It's still very surreal to me. But what is even more amazing is that the country has come together in this amazing city and put together an amazing demonstration for the boys. Sitting at this rally for the boys filled with live music, people talking, prayers being said and sung, and listening to the mothers talk was really moving. Although it was all in Hebrew and I didn't understand much I still thought wow, this is pretty spectacular. I really enjoyed how they incorporated music from all walks of life; from children singing to piano players singing and playing. What got to me the most was listening to "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables sung beautifully in Hebrew. That song is so powerful in the play/musical and just as powerful in the square...May the boys forever rest in peace and my heart goes out to the families and their loss."

Ari Shifman:

"Yesterday Nikki, Tini, and I met Justin down at the Demonstration in honor of bringing back the 3 kidnapped boys. As night fell, Rabin Square filled up with thousands of people, all of which came out in support of the families and Israel as a whole. The MC introduced Rabbis and famous Israeli musicians who spoke and sang about staying strong in the face of extreme adversity. But the highlight of the night was the speeches given by the incredibly courageous moms of the 3 boys. These women believed Israel was going to find their boys and that they were going to come back home. I left the demonstration believing as well. 

Unfortunately this optimism and belief was wrong. The boys were found dead today outside Hebron in the West Bank and this optimism has been replaced with a cold pessimism and a fear for the next step."

It is hard to describe how I feel right now. It is absolutely heartbreaking and scary to think of what else will come from this. We are all sending love and strength to the families of the boys. We are now reminded of why the conflict here continues. 



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