Before I went, I was thinking how difficult it must be to make a simcha at a time like this, when everyone is in anguish over the missing boys. Does one simply switch off everything else?
My friends showed me how it's done.
The mother of the barmitzvah boy delivered a rousing speech. She spoke about the tremendous sense of love and unity that she felt with all her family and friends celebrating with them. Everyone had been there for them, helping to make this simcha happen. The emotions in the hall were almost tangible, with everyone feeling so happy together.
And then she noted that right now there are three boys who are in terror, imprisoned in some hellhole not too many miles away. With tears in her eyes and her voice cracking, she looked at her son and said, "These boys are just three years older than you!" She asked us all to seize this powerful moment, in which we were all united with our emotions, take a minute to silently beg Hashem to bring our boys back home. The entire hall fell silent as we each pleaded to Hashem in our minds.
Life goes on. We celebrate milestones, we rejoice in the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. But we do not forget our boys. And, amidst our happiness, amidst everything that we do, we say Hashem, please help our soldiers bring our boys back home.