Meeting Gil-ad's parents

There are seminal moments in our lives. Some we experience in solidarity, some with friends, some with strangers. Last Friday, a few JUF leaders, including myself, experienced a seminal moment with our Jewish family.

The broken though not beaten parents of Gil-ad Shaar, one of "our boys," joined us. Originally, we were scheduled to visit the grave sites of Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal. The Hamas rockets have prevented us from going there.

They told us that 16 years ago, right before Gil-ad’s bris, they decided to hyphenate his name so translated it means, joy-forever. Whoever could imagine back then let alone 16 weeks ago, that he would be remembered as "Gil" without the "ad". Forever was taken away.

Every single city, large, small and intermediate conveyed to the Shaars how their federated community prayed and rallied for the boys return. And sadly, finally, memorialized them with all of Israel. The solidarity in the room was loud, strong and breathtaking. The pain, tears, outreach and grief in the room was unimaginable.

As Gil-ad's father said to us, "They were not only our children but OUR children, yours and mine. We searched for our children and found ourselves because in a crisis there is both danger and opportunity. Our hearts are broken but we do and must believe in the future"


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