We Pray for the Children
Rabbi Ed Feinstein
JERUSALEM, July 1, 2014
I visited Israel for the first time when I was 16 years old. I came with my family and we stayed in Jerusalem with friends who had immigrated years before. Each night, the neighborhood kids took me out on the town. When my parents expressed their reservations about this, they were told not to worry. Israel was safe for kids. In Israel, everyone looked after kids. In Israel, everyone was family, there were no strangers. As a protest against the fear that haunted the generations of Jewish exile, Israel had constructed a child-safe society, a child-nurturing society. Embracing children was the way Israel affirmed life after a generation of Jewish death.
Only if you understand how Israel looks upon children will you grasp why the tragedy of this week hurts so much. After so many wars, so much terror, after Intifada, suicide bombers and random rocket attacks, why are we so affected by the death of three young teens? Because Israel’s greatest achievement was to return the promise of childhood to the Jewish people. Childhood is the most powerful human symbol of renewal -- of new life and new possibility, of an open future. The promise of childhood was taken from us in the Holocaust, in the pogroms and in the brutality of exile. Israel gave us back childhood in all its sweetness. And that’s what was murdered on a highway near Hebron.
“We will learn to sing without you,” affirmed the mother of Naftali Frankel. And at that, the entire Jewish people wept. This is more than politics, more than nations struggling for power and territory.
This week, Israel struggles for life against death, for hope against despair. This week, Israel struggles for childhood and its dreams. There will be military operations and diplomatic negotiation. Those will not heal the wounds nor will bring closure. What was taken cannot be won back by bullets, but only by a renewal of hope, a rekindling of faith in tomorrow.
So this week, we will hold our children tighter, and we will pray. This week, the entire Jewish people join together in prayer for the children we have lost. We will ask God for the strength to reassure our children that tomorrow is coming....soon.