It’s been a very intense week in Israel, filled with a mixture of emotions ranging from anguish, desperation, hope, and anger. Surreal images flit through my head which is clouded by a fog of disbelief and dread.
Below are a few snapshots that capture some of the thoughts and feelings that Jews in Israel – and abroad – have experienced this past week.
1. Naftali, Gilad and Eyal
Their names and faces are etched in our minds. They are our brothers, our sons, and the nation is suddenly united in concern and fear. Life is not normal.
2. Storming the Heavens
En masse, around the world, we take hold of the most powerful weapon in the Jewish arsenal – we cry out in heartfelt prayer.
3. #Bring Back Our Boys
I'm playing a quick game of Tag with my son while we wait for his school bus. It feels like a normal Jerusalem morning. Then an Egged bus drives by adorned with a placard: BRING BACK OUR BOYS. Nothing is normal.
4. #Depraved Celebration
The Arab world erupts with their own social media campaign celebrating the kidnapping. The "Three Shalits" hashtag, alluding to Gilad Shalit, the soldier who was abducted by Hamas in 2006 and swapped for 1,027 terrorist prisoners in 2011, comprises of photos of Arabs giving a three-finger salute, signifying the three abducted teens in the form of a distorted peace sign. The image literally turns my stomach.
5. Soul of the Nation
The parents of the three boys come together and address the nation. We have been praying that God should give them strength, but their unbreakable faith, dignity and strength give us support, and remind us of the unique power of the Jewish people.
6. Breaking out of the Box
Mohammed Zoabi, the 17-year-old Muslim and self–proclaimed Zionist, from Nazareth, becomes a viral sensation for transcending his society's conditioning and declaring his support for Israel and Naftali, Gilad and Eyal. In return, he receives death threats from his people, an eviction notice, and a security detail from the Israeli government.
7. Tony Orlando rocks.
A blast from my past,Tony Orlando, the 70s pop singer who sang the hit "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree," visits the families and makes an eloquent, impassioned plea encouraging fans to hang three yellow ribbons in solidarity with the teens. "Children should not be touched," Orlando said. "To the captors: please bring those children home." His vocal support is amplified by the deafening silence of President Obama.
A new week is about to begin. May we witness the fulfillment of this prayer that is constantly on our lips: "Our brothers, the entire house of Israel, who are delivered into distress and captivity… may the Omnipresent One have mercy of them and remove them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily and soon – let us say, Amen."