For the first few days everything stopped. Everything. People walked around looking shell-shocked, not sure how to make eye contact, not sure how to even use words anymore to talk. Because there are no words for this. The radio reported about this and only this for the first 24 hours, maybe even 48 hours. And then some terrible things and some wonderful things happened almost at once.
Terrible is that life moved on. The radio left this story behind to report on summer or politics. The boys were relegated to the top of the hour. Music was back playing on the radio. I picked up my dry cleaning. I continued to run errands for Yon’s Bar Mitzvah feeling guilty and grateful and confused all at once. How can life continue in moments like this?
But then wonderful moments crept up too. On Sunday night there was a women’s tefilla at Migdal Oz. And I filled my car with my daughter and my friends — mothers with sons in the army, sons going into the army and sons too young for the army and off we went. Clearly, we weren’t the only feeling the need to seek out spirituality. The Beit Midrash was packed, standing room only with women filling the hallways and standing outside. There were little girls sitting next to their mothers, young mothers with babies on their hips, mothers with sons in the same school as the boys — the same class, there were mothers of soldiers who are out looking for the boys, grandmothers. Representatives of every stage of life.
Before tehillim began, there was singing. I grew up in the world of these songs but I have never felt them more viscerally. Rachel Frankel, the mother of Naftali, joined the tefilla by phone at the start of the evening. And she heard the opening remarks that were full of hope and strength and faith. And then she heard 700 women sing “Rachel Mevaka Al Baneha,” Rachel is weeping for her sons. And you can’t believe the authenticity of the song, the rawness of the moment. Because a new Rachel is crying for her son because he is not here.
We left on such a high that we felt those boys would be found in no time at all. And then we all got home and there were dishes in the sink and homework to finish up and lunches to be made. And the radio reported on a minor celebrity. And things keep moving on when all you want is to stay in this moment and wait for those boys to come home.
My kids are dealing with it in their own ways. My seven year old wants to go look for the boys — as though they are caught up in his childhood game of hide and seek and they just need someone to find them, to bring them home.
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