FATHER OF SLAIN ISRAELI TEEN VISITS JEC - RTMA
Uri Yifrach on a Mission to Share Message of Faith and Unity
November 20, 2014 / Elizabeth, NJ – Students at the Jewish Educational Center’s Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy middle and high school divisions were offered a rare glimpse into the painful tragedy experienced by the Yifrach family, whose son Eyal was kidnapped and then murdered this past summer along with two other Israeli teens Gideon Sa’ar and Naftali Frankel.
Uri Yifrach, Eyal’s father, visited RTMA as part of his US tour to share his message of faith and unity among the Jewish people and to raise funds for an aron kodesh (Torah ark) to be built in memory of his son.
Speaking first in English, Yifrach described the pain of not knowing the fate of his son and the other boys during the days before their bodies were found near Chevron (Hebron), where he said, ironically, he lived as a child. He shared that despite his personal pain, his son and the others “lifted the nation” to a sense of unity and love that it has never known before.
Then, by reading an excerpt in Hebrew from his son’s personal diary, which was translated by RTMA principal Rabbi Peretz Hochbaum, he introduced the audience to Eyal, whose writings delved into the deepest questions of existence and peoplehood. “Don’t ask lama (why),” he wrote, “but rather li-mah, for what purpose”.
Yifrach said that the powerful sense of unity felt by the entire Jewish world, and the discovery of the extensive Hamas-built tunnel networks during the war that ensued were perhaps the greater purpose to the boys’ deaths. He told the audience how much he appreciated all the strength and love sent in the letters from Jews all over the world and says that the families send their love back in return.
His level of faith in G-d and submission to the workings of Divine Providence were noticeably unshakable and he repeated multiple times that although he does not understand the ways of Hashem, that he believes that everything He does is for the good, and that he accepts it, even though it is very, very difficult. “Our eyes,” he said, “are human eyes. We cannot understand G-d’s master plan… All we see is a small part, but it is part of a much larger picture.”
When asked whether he is afraid to let his other children leave the house, Yifrach replied that no, he's absolutely not afraid to let his other kids travel around as usual. He wants them to live their lives normally and happily, because everything comes from G-d, and only G-d can take care of them.
Students from RTMA asked thoughtful and poignant questions in a Q&A session that followed. In responding to a student who asked how he felt during the time that his son was missing before his tragic fate was revealed, Yifrach said that his own father told him, “You were chosen. You were chosen to sanctify G-d’s name, because that is the purpose of Jews in this world. So sanctify G-d’s name.” Those words touched a chord for many of those present, including several mothers who had come to hear the talk, and tears flowed freely for many.