In Judaism, 18 has a very special place in our hearts and our actions. Eighteen is the numerical value of "Chai" - life. Eighteen is a lucky number. We celebrate the 18th year of life as something special; the 18th year of marriage. We often give presents in multiples of 18.
Right before Elie's wedding, he was involved in a car accident, caused by bad road conditions and even worse safety design by the city of Modiin. Residents told us that accidents happen there "all the time" - Elie was just one of many but according to the laws of the road, he was at fault. He wasn't speeding or doing anything wrong, but apparently, in the dark, in an unlit section, he was supposed to have seen the STOP sign that Modiin put in the wrong place.
He was ordered to show up in court - and the court date came just 2 days after his wedding. I drove Elie and Lauren to court and unbeknownst to us, apparently the judge drove in right after us and noticed the wedding decorations still on the car.
When it came to Elie's turn, the judge asked when he was married and when she gave him a fine, she lowered the standard amount so it would be a multiple of 18 - of life.
So, today is the 18th day that the boys - Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali - have been held in captivity. Not once, contrary to international law, have the kidnappers (read here Hamas) allowed the Red Cross to see the boys. Not once have they had the decency (as if you can expect decency from terrorists, cowards and thugs) to even allow the parents a sign that the boys are well.
Today, we are all praying this will end...today, now. Over 80,000 people gathered last night (according to the organizers and YNET). I wasn't there. I'm just not up to standing and getting bumped around in a crowd, but my heart was there.
Day 18 - time to end this today.
Bring back our boys, Gaza - the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Cursed will be those who threaten or harm His people, and cursed you are. If you spent half your energy for life and not for death, for your people and not against ours - even just half, all our lives would be so much better.
Day 18 - we pray for the lives of Naftali, Eyal, and Gilad.