A Kidnapping in the Family: The Least We Can Do

Crisis can be a cruel mirror. And a clear one. Israel is not going to be quite the same Israel after this. Neither will the PA, nor Hamas, come out of this the same.

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Praying for Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel.
Praying for Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

There's been a kidnapping in the family. Three teens. Family members we'd never met. We moved in different circles, lived on two different edges. We'd never known them, nor even known of them, neither the three, nor their parents, nor their brothers and sisters. But we're starting to now.

You know they're family, because it already feels like weeks since they've been gone. You know they're family, because you can feel acutely what none of us can know at this point - who exactly is holding them, where they've been hidden, how they're being treated.

Click here for Tuesday's updates on the kidnapping

You know they're family, also, when your gut churns to hear some of the reactions to the kidnapping, the flippant and the doctrinaire and the hateful, the harnessing of human tragedy to ideology and politics. Talking too much and at the same time, saying much too little. Saying too little that is broad enough and human enough to be true; too little that is focused and heartfelt enough to be real.

In this best of all terrible places, there is much that we already knew about targeted children, children targeted and missing because of the works and ill designs of adults.

We knew that every targeted child is a world entire. We knew that every targeted child deserves different. Every targeted child deserves to be allowed, instead, the miracle of a normal childhood, to grow up, to celebrate, or just have dinner with loved ones, be a friend, become a lover, support and be supported by loved ones. Create a new family. Create a new child. Revisit their childhood in the miracle of a new one. That much we knew already.

But now we know something more. We know the names and faces of three teens who have become our family. We have heard from their parents, and the modest request they've made of the rest of us, the explicit way in which we can support them in an ordeal of waiting we cannot begin to comprehend:

They've asked the rest of us to recite psalms.

For the sake of Eyal ben Iris Teshura, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim, and Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, we've been asked to recite three:

Psalm 121"I shall raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come?"

Psalm 130: "From the depths I have called You, O Lord."

And Psalm 20: "May the Lord answer you on a day of distress These trust in chariots and these in horses, but we mention the name of the Lord our God."

Others have suggested additional psalms, some seeming to speak to us and for us, some shedding a sliver of light on what the three teens might be going through and feeling.

There is Psalm 143,for example, which pleads: " do not come to judgment with Your servant, for no living being will be innocent before You. For an enemy pursued my soul; he crushed my soul to the earth; he has made me dwell in dark places like those who are long dead. And my spirit enwrapped itself upon me; within me my heart is appalled."

And there is Psalm 142composed by David, it begins "when he was in the cave."

 "They have hidden a snare for me," it continues, "Looking to the right, I see that no one recognizes me; escape is lost from me; no one seeks my soul."

"Hearken to my cry for I have become very low; save me from my pursuers for they have overpowered me. Take my soul out of confinement to give thanks to Your name."

Just last week, I was 9,000 miles from here, listening to people talking about the future of the Holy Land, and about what people here call relative quiet.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to come back to an entirely different place.

Crisis can be a cruel mirror. And a clear one. Israel is not going to be quite the same Israel after this. Neither will the Palestinian Authority, nor Hamas, come out of this the same.

In fact, we're already changing. Because no one has the slightest idea of how this is going to turn out.

That's the way things go here. Things change when something happens that utterly changes the subject, and in a way that – rather than prompting us to think, as we all do so often, "I told you so," - gives most of us pause, and a need to think again.

We know this much: Crisis can tear families to shreds. Or, as I suspect in this case, it can bring families together.

At the moment, our family is asking us to say psalms. 

Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach.

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