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Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Rabbinic Mission to Israel
Day 3 -- A day of Encounters
Rabbi Mark Greenspan
Courtesy Mark Greenspan
Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the boys who was abducted and killed just weeks ago.

There have only been a hand full of times in my life when I have encountered true greatness; today was one of them. This morning our group met with Ms. Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the boys who was abducted and killed just weeks ago. Thrust into the public prominence, Ms. Fraenkel is a truly extraordinary woman. She is a woman filled strength, humility and true faith. It was a privilege to meet her.

Rachel described her life over the past several weeks as filled with “boundless pain and boundless love.” She still cannot imagine that her beloved Naftali will never come home but she was grateful for all the love and kindness that people have shown her over these weeks first leading up to the discovery of Naftali and following his funeral during Shiva and Sheloshim.

Despite her Orthodox identity, Ms. Fraenkel came to congregation Ramat Zion to thank us for our wishes and concerns. Ramat Zion is a Masorti/Conservative congregation on French Hill in Jerusalem. She apologized for not being able to invite us to her home but that she was trying to create some semblance of quiet for her children who have been through so much. Rachel also spoke out and publically criticized the retaliatory killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir shortly after her son and his friends were found. And she actually called Muhammad’s family while she was still sitting Shiva.

Rachel Fraenkel exudes compassion and openness to the world. We should have been there to comfort her and yet Rachel put us at ease and comforted us. She gave us hope in the face of cruelty and violence. She made us believe that with faith one can overcome almost anything – that in the face of such ugliness there is still beauty and meaning in the world. There is a ‘realness’ and an authenticity about this woman that goes beyond description. We could feel her broken heart and her faith that life is worth living at the same time. I suspect we

will hear more from Rachel in coming years – that she may not have chosen leadership she will emerge as one of the great leaders of the Jewish people


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