Some 3,000 youths from all over the world took part in a formal ceremony in Jerusalem on Sunday evening to kick-start the latest effort to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad
The initiative will reach its apex on Tuesday evening at 21:00 (in Israel) when rallies will be held simultaneously in over 45 countries in a show of solidarity with the kidnapped Israeli soldiers and their families.
"Time is running out, help us bring the boys home. It is our duty to ensure they are returned," said representatives from the Student Forum, which championed the initiative, at the event in Jerusalem. The Student Forum was established under the auspices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.
Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski also spoke at the ceremony: "Israel is the only place in the world where everyone knows the names of the three soldiers, where so many people care.
"The terror groups holding the soldiers are taking advantage of the fact that so many care. This is a cynical use of enemy combatants," he said, adding that the world was not doing enough to bring the soldiers back.
Ehud Goldwasser's wife Karnit thanked the students for their efforts. "I am a student just like you, a graduate student, just like my husband Udi (Ehud). I believe that students have the power to make a difference," she said.
"I get up in the morning and every minute stretches out like an entire day. And it's difficult to get through the days, not to mention the nights. If I find myself with a glass of water I think to myself, does Udi have a glass of water to drink? Is his bed big enough, and clean enough? Does he have light in his room? Those
questions return every day. I am constantly overwhelmed by the number of days he has been away from me."
Goldwasser urged the youths to return to their countries and think what more can be done to help bring the soldiers home. "We need your voices, do what you can in your communities and countries," she asked.