Today, thousands across Israel gathered to remember and mourn Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who were found dead 18 days after their abduction.
Concern for the fate of the 3 teens, Naftali, 16, Gilad, 16 and Eyal, 19, mobilized Israelis and their supporters around the globe. Prayer vigils and rallies were held, social media campaigns launched, across Israel volunteers lined up to search for the boys and to provide support and sustenance to the families and the searchers.
Now, just as Israelis united in support for the boys, they are joining together to mourn and search for meaning in this tragedy.
Many are taking lessons from the teens’ families whose composure and public strength throughout this ordeal inspired and amazed. As columnist David Weinberg relates in Yisrael Hayom:
"(The) bereaved parents modeled for us not just indomitable personal character. They modeled for us spiritual strength; a healthy blend of religious devotion and rationality. Of this-worldness and other-worldness. Of pragmatism and values. Of self-interest and selflessness. Of coolly calculated tactics and naturally-flowing love...They gave Israelis a model for religious commitment, national unity and brotherly love not only in times of crisis but also in everyday life; throughout all regular seasons of our rough-and-tumble spiritual-social-political life."
Member of Knesset, Dov Lipman, writes in The Jerusalem Post, that while the crisis heightened the sense of Jewish unity, it is always there:
"I view these last 18 days as a gust of wind. The air is always there but it takes a gust of wind to remind us that air surrounds us at all times. The unity, love and caring among Jews is always there. These last 18 days simply reminded us of this phenomenon."
And for American immigrant to Israel, Judy Krasna, reflecting in The Times of Israel , the message today is about Israeli unity and resiliency:
"After eighteen years in Israel, I have learned that we honor our dead by living. No one that I know wanted to go to work today, but everyone that I know went anyway. It’s what we do in the face of tragedy. We function. We may take a break to cry every once in a while, but we do what we need to do. Our thoughts are never far from those three boys and their families; there are no distractions great enough to dull our pain…So today I am going to leave my house. If I start to cry in the middle of the produce aisle, no one will look at me as if I have lost my mind. Chances are that a total stranger will offer me a tissue to wipe my tears and then take out a tissue to wipe her own."