Racheli Frenkel, whose son Naftali, together with Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, were kidnapped and murdered in June 2014. Racheli speaks about the pain and sorrow during the 18-day search for the three boys, and the weeks and months after their bodies were found, how their murder greatly affected everyone in Israel and around the world, and her belief that the Jewish People sincerely care for each other.

Racheli says she feels, “Mostly humbled. It was a very dramatic event when our boys were kidnapped and when everything started out around October 7th. At the beginning I thought I understood something about kidnapping, about having a child hostage, about the anxiety, the uncertainty, about the support and eventually about murder and what Hamas is capable of, and grief.”

She continues to say, “Today it's 235 days later and what has been a very acute, critical pain, became kind of a chronic pain, and that's a whole different type of thing. So, I'm humbled by the size of this event, the number of days that are going by. A friend, Moshe Kavas, gave me a way of thinking of it. He said, ‘If life was a sitcom, you’re a character from a previous season.’ It helped me think about it, because there's something very confusing about this. But, yes, the people gathering to help, people offering a hug, offering any type of assistance. It's something I know closely and we’ve experienced it a lot.”

Racheli is very involved in the “Day of Unity” project and the concept of “unity” has become sanctified these days. People understand a lot about what happened before October 7th and everyone felt that as we're united now, the biggest fear is that very easily we may go back to what happened in Israel before October 7th. Racheli believes that, “It was very difficult for us, because things started breaking apart and we were heartbroken, because for us some of the meaning of the event was people being together. Then you understand that peak events, whether on the positive side or as horrific as we've experienced them, bring you to expose your capabilities, your potential. On a day-to-day basis we have really significant differences."

She continues, "We are six months away from Unity Day. When we have the Rabin Memorial Day, we discuss the 20% of differences that we have and how to handle them. Unity Day is about celebrating the 80%. It's about reminding ourselves about what we have in common. It's about doing good deeds together, volunteering together, etc. Most of the time we share so much. Thinking back to Yom Kippur, to October 6, it was a low that we hadn't hit, I don't know since when. It was hard.”

Racheli believes that, “We have a responsibility to learn from what happened. You could never just rely on things and say, ‘oh, lessons must have been learned.’ We definitely have to remember that we can't afford to go that low again, not on a national basis, not on a security basis. We know now for a fact that all our enemies were watching, were listening to our news and saying, ‘now this spiderweb could be torn apart.’ That's something we could never go back to. This recognition enables each of us from their own stand to be willing to pay a price for unity, for sitting together in a government, for trying to recalculate the way we handle even positive changes that we strive to with wider understandings and wider agreement."

Racheli brings as examples, "Those same people that were so controversial on both sides, such as the Brothers in Arms, became the heroes of the first couple of months, rehabilitating families and doing everything needed for them. They were just working around the clock with their hearts and their minds. You could take people who you were very annoyed with, such as Yair Golan. People have very good reasons to be angry with him and they turned into true heroes that day, going back and forth endangering themselves. Or people like Hanan Kalmanson, who are considered ‘extreme settlers,’ from the south of Har Hebron, they went from door to door in Be’eri to help the families.”

Racheli continues to praise the people, “When the moment came, we all showed up. We showed up 150% and people weren't sure that's where it's going to go. There's much more here in the form of connection and covenant. Even though some went back to protest, that's life, and not only life, but it’s also who we are. Freedom of speech is one of the things that build our society. People really believe that they are doing good for the state. It's not coming from hate. On Yom Kippur there were layers and layers of hate. If we can do the ‘machloket’ [dispute] without the hate, that would be a tremendous thing. We're very passionate people. We're all out there on one side or the other, because we care so much. That can't be taken for granted in a world where so much seems to be like, ‘what I do I care, whatever.’”

Racheli explains that, “The operation to bring Naftali, Gil-Ad and Eyal home was called Shuvu Achim, but the official English name was, ‘My Brother's Keeper.’ The original statement ‘Am I my brother's keeper’ in the Bible questions this responsibility, but now we are saying, ‘I am my brother's keeper,’ with an exclamation mark.”

Racheli is not only involved with unity inside Israel, but is also very connected to what's happening in the Jewish Diaspora around the world, an important connection these days. She says, “Sometimes you meet someone from the Diaspora and you're not sure who's more worried about the other. They're worried about what's happening here and we're very worried about what's happening there, not only on campuses, in the streets and in politics, but there may be things hidden under the table, which are now being said very bluntly. We’re worried, but not only worried, I think we all here in Israel feel a responsibility for our Diaspora, for our brothers all over the world, sisters all over the world and a lot of what we can do about antisemitism, about security in Israel, we should be doing together.”