I am in a state of shock.

The 10 young people who lost their lives in a flooded riverbed in southern Israel on Thursday should have been my students at the Bnei Zion pre-military academy next year. I have been a teacher at this wonderful academy for seven years. With my return from sabbatical next year, I will be spending the most significant year of the students’ lives with them—a year of learning about Israel, Judaism, the human spirit, the Israel Defense Forces and everything that connects us to this place.

ZAKA emergency volunteers transport the bodies of nine students killed during flash floods while hiking in the Nahal Tzafit river bed on April 26, 2018. Photo courtesy of ZAKA.

The Bnei Zion academy was born of bereavement. The educational institution was founded in 2007 in memory of Ben-Zion Haddad, who lost his life in service to the Israel Defense Forces in 2006.

My heart is broken for the young men and women—among the country’s best—who wanted to study with us, but who will now be names on a memorial wall.

We never had the chance to get to know them, their special spirit, their world, their excellence.

I hope that this tragedy does not harm the academy’s path for taking good young people and making them the best. We have our work cut out for us next year.

I send my deepest condolences to the victims’ families and friends. There are no words I could find that would comfort you at this time.

Avri Gilad is an Israeli media personality.