Rutgers Vigil for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali
By Aviv Alter, Class of 2015, Morganville, NJ
Monday afternoon, like many of you, I heard of the devastating news: Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad would not be returning home to their families. Their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, neighbors, classmates, and friends would never have the chance to celebrate one more holiday together, to share one more car ride, or to embrace one last time. For 18 days, all of Am Yisrael, the Jewish People, hoped, prayed, and searched for the boys. Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad had become OUR boys. It didn’t matter if we had never met them before; we instinctively felt connected. They were each one of us.
When I learned that our boys would not be returning home, I realized that I could no longer sit alone, behind a computer screen, reading statement after statement, update after update, article after article. I felt the need, as I am sure many of us felt, to do something—to take action and honor our boys. During times such as these, words are simply not enough. We must come together and act. We must stand united, support each other, and comfort each other. We must condemn immoral, senseless acts of violence such as this. We must stand in solidarity with the Jewish People and the State of Israel. We must promote our life affirming values. We must tell the world that we will not be silent, and that we will defend our right to live freely in our native land. Most importantly, we must honor the memories of those three boys who were taken from us.
The solidarity of the Rutgers and New Jersey Jewish communities at the vigil that was held on Tuesday evening is an indication of how these three boys united us all. This is a testament to the unbreakable bond that ties all of us to one another. What began as an idea for a small vigil to be attended by Rutgers students who were around for the summer turned into a statewide gathering overnight. Members of the New Jersey Jewish community united as one, regardless of affiliation, politics, or anything else that may divide us. We came together because that is what we do.
Yesterday afternoon, Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad’s families had to bury their boys. Today, their families will wake up, forced to carry on their lives without them. We all will, but what distinguishes us from those who try to destroy us is our determination to live. Our enemies choose death in order to achieve their goals. We choose life. As we mourn the loss of our three brothers, let us not forget this unity—this desire to continue to live as one, free people.
The Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement is driven by a core belief that a positive connection to Israel is essential for a strong, healthy Jewish identity.
Through the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement students develop strong connections to our homeland and the experience to be Jewish leaders.
Please help us cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders, like Aviv. To support Rutgers Hillel in this effort and help change the Israel conversation on campus, please click the donate now button below.