Over the last eighteen days, all of us were united in prayer, in tense anticipation, and in the desperate hope that Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali—against all odds—would be brought back home alive. Thousands of our soldiers worked around the clock to search for them. Millions of Israelis enveloped the boys' families with love and support. And the families themselves—Iris and Uri Yifrach, Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer, and Racheli and Avi Fraenkel—gave us strength with their unswerving faith and noble response to their personal tragedy, a tragedy that so many Israelis and so many Jews feel as their own.
A few hours before the bodies of our boys were found, the Deputy Chairman of the Executive, Rany Trainin, visited the families to bring them support from our Fund for the Victims of Terror. Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer, who had years ago served as shlichim on behalf of Bnei Akiva, spoke to him about The Jewish Agency's mission to mobilize Jewish communities to fight for Israel. A week earlier, Racheli and Avi Fraenkel asked us to speak to the Brazilian Jewish community about using the World Cup as a platform for their struggle. The community's response, and that of our shlichim, was swift and reverberated widely. And Iris and Uri Yifrach, upon hearing about the demonstrations and prayers taking place in Jewish communities around the world, exclaimed, "If this helps the struggle against assimilation in even the smallest of ways, what a privilege our family has to contribute to it."
Dear friends, in this period of inconsolable mourning, it is important to remember what a privilege we have in helping to strengthen the connection between Jews around the world and the State of Israel. What a privilege we have to serve as the central nervous system of the Jewish people, helping to ensure that no Jew's joy or pain goes unfelt or without response by the global Jewish family. And what a privilege and awesome responsibility we have to belong to the family of shlichim and to the people of Israel, whose marching orders are Kol yisra'el arevim zeh la-zeh – all Jews are responsible for one another.
ehi zichram shel banenu baruch.
May the memory of our boys forever be a blessing.
Natan Sharansky Charles Ratner