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For over five years I have been praying for Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit to be returned to Israel, and today, thank God, I have received the answer to my prayers. Finally, after an agonizing wait, the people of Israel can rejoice in the homecoming of a young man that we have all grown to look at as a brother and son.

No person in Israel will ever forget the day that Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. We all sat glued to our television screens in shock and mourning as we feared we would never see this young soldier again. For the first few weeks after his abduction we prayed that the Israeli military would be able to identify his whereabouts in Gaza and conduct a daring and successful rescue, but after months, then years of waiting for Gilad’s homecoming, our hope began to dwindle.

Every Shabbat when I light the Shabbat candles, I sit by their holy light and pray. For the past five years I have sat together with my young children, stared at the burning candles, and begged God to answer our prayers of bringing Gilad home. Each week when we were getting ready to light the candles my daughter looked at me with her innocent eyes and asked if Gilad is home with his family yet. It broke my heart to have to answer no, yet I encouraged her to continue to pray because that’s the only way we could help him.

Today, when I showed my daughter the picture of Gilad Shalit on Israeli soil, and told her through my tears that Gilad is finally home, she stared at me without saying a word. “What are you thinking?” I asked her. With strong conviction she replied, “Mommy, now I know that God really hears our prayers,” while hugging me tight with a big smile on her face.

Gilad Shalit’s historic and unexpected homecoming has renewed the people of Israel’s faith in prayer and redemption. Now that we have Gilad Shalit back home in Israel, my prayers are that God will bless us all with His most precious gift of peace. May it happen soon. Amen!