They walked out, as the women walked in. It's unusual in our community to have only women fill the main sanctuary - and fill it we did. As we walked in, I greeted a special friend. She's one of those people I never see often enough, but when I do, it's pure love. Her eyes, like so many others, was red from tears and as I hugged her, she started to cry again.
Her oldest son is in the army - anyone with a son around the age of the kidnapped boys finds it so easy to imagine what should be unimaginable. We have all been crying for the boys, worried about their mothers - our sisters. There is a bond so strong in Israel as to be almost indescribable.
You cannot imagine the connection we have and so all over Israel, mothers are crying. Friend after friend writes that she cannot sleep. The tears flowed even as we walked in and sat down.
The planned prayers and songs were printed on a piece of paper, both sides. At the top, it says, "Women's Prayers for the redemption of the boys - Gilad, Naftali, Eyal" - their full Hebrew names and the date.
I knew I was in trouble from the first minute. The first song was guaranteed to break me. It always does.
I remember David, who is now 18 years old...He was six when Shmulik was bar mitzvahed and he stood up on a chair and sang this song.
אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַנְּתוּנִים בְּצָרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה, הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה, הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם, וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה, וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה, וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה, הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב.
As for our brothers, the whole house of Israel, who are given over to trouble or captivity, whether they abide on the sea or on the dry land. May the All-present have mercy upon them, and bring them forth from trouble to enlargement, from darkness to light, and from subjection to redemption, now speedily and at a near time.
It is a song that tells you we are all one house - one family and we are consumed with worry for our brothers (and sisters) no matter where they are.
From there, I was broken. And I wasn't alone. There were so many tears as the beautiful voices filling the room with prayer. I know that God was listening and I know that He will answer our prayers.
As always, I can only hope His answer will be the one we all so desperately want to hear.
We finished with two songs, each so special.
גַּם כִּי אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת לֹא אִירָא רָע כִּי אַתָּה עִמָּדִי
Even if I walk in the valley of death, I will not fear because you are with me
Somehow we have to believe that the boys will remember this. No matter where they are being held, God is with them.
And finally the last one...
May this time be an hour of mercy and a time of acceptance before You
תְּהֵא הַשָּׁעָה הַזֹּאת שְׁעַת רַחֲמִים וְעֵת רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ
...which asks God to accept our prayers, have mercy on our boys...and send them home...safe...soon....