A year ago today (on the Hebrew calendar), three Israeli teens – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frenkel – were abducted and murdered by terrorists. For the grieving parents, the pain is still fresh.
Ofir Shaer gives in to the pain, letting it wash over him. He is like a reed that bends to the wind, rather than a mighty tree that refuses to yield.
“People who try to comfort us tell us to be strong. But you can’t be strong in the face of something like this,” Shaer told The Times of Israel over coffee in Modiin late last week, almost a year after the kidnapping and murder of his 16-year-old son Gil-ad by Palestinian terrorists.
“We are in the pain. The pain is in us. We are feeling it and we are not pushing it away,” the father said about how he and his family are coping with their loss.
Another way the parents are coping is by working to foster the unity that existed within Israel in the harrowing weeks when their boys were missing.
“We’ve got to translate the pain into something positive for the future. That’s the way that our coping will have meaning,” he said.
To that end, the Shaers, Fraenkels and Yifrachs have established the Memorial Foundation for the Three Boys to promote unity within the Jewish world, both in Israel and in the Diaspora. The foundation’s first major activity is the awarding of the Jerusalem Unity Prize to individuals and organizations doing outstanding work in promoting Jewish unity and connecting Israel with Diaspora Jewish communities.
The first annual prizes will be awarded at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 3. The date is the first anniversary of the boys deaths (according to the Hebrew calendar) and has been designated a Unity Day on which Jewish unity-fostering communal and educational programs will take place throughout the country, and also globally.
“There was an outpouring of solidarity when the boys were missing. We shouldn’t take this unity that we see in times of crisis for granted,” said Shaer.