Friday, July 31, 2009

Sitting Shiva Once Again

It's that time of year again. Every time the Tisha B'av season rolls around, I feel my chest tighten up. Both our holy Temples were destroyed on that date, but sadly, I'm not on a spiritual level to feel this in any but an abstruse sense. The expulsion of our brothers and sisters from Gush Katif, on the other hand, seared my heart and scorched my soul.

Only one who has sat shiva can fully relate to what I am writing. Only if you have buried a loved one can you comprehend the most heartbreaking despair that exists in our world. That despair revisited my life for a second time four years ago. I can say without hesitance, that had I been one of the brave Jews forcibly evicted back then, I believe today I'd be in a lock-down ward in a psychiatric hospital somewhere.

I had already decided to make aliya at age nine, six years before I became religious thanks to my grandparents. (They themselves made aliya, but returned to the USA because they couldn't abide living so far from their children.) They bombarded their grandchildren with stories, postcards, and books about Israel throughout the year. Aged nine, I told my parents,"When I finish college, I am going to live in Israel." My parents were certain it was a phase that would pass. Thankfully it was not.

In the months leading up to the Gerush I participated in all the anti-expulsion demonstrations. Even though a alumni of the famed black hat Ponevitch Yeshiva, my husband asked me, "What will we say after 120 when we are asked in Shamayim what did we do for Eretz Yisrael??" I went to demonstrate; he sat and learned praying his zechuyot would help strengthen the fight to keep Gush Katif ours. Sadly, this was not standard practice for people in neighboorhoods such as mine. Tehillim for the Gush, yes; demonstrations, no.

The week following Tisha B'av was one of the most traumatic in my life. On the radio I heard distraught cries of many of my friends. For, the Ulpana where I teach has many teachers formerly from the Gush Katif settlements. The voices from the radio during those days will never be forgotten.

Aderet, an English speaker, moved to a settlement from Sederot two years before the expulsion. One grandmother was not told of her move; the other gave her a "shachpatz" (bulletproof vest) for her birthday!!!I recall hearing her cries as she was forcibly removed from her home in Morag.

Miriam and Shabtai Namburg were evicted from Yamit years ago before their second expulsion. Rav Shabtai was a Ram in Yeshivat Yamit. This couple ran an unofficial "Yad Eliezer," distributing cash and food to the needy for many years.

Smadar and her dear husband, Rav Gabi Kadosh lived through many trials during their lives while at Ganei Tal. Rav Gabi picked up a hitchhiker once who was shot dead from point blank range. How calmly the commentator spoke, "The Rav of Ganei Tal is now being led from his home...."

Bat Oren Mazaki recieved a troubling phone call while on our Ulpana's school trip one spring. "Don't worry," (When someone says this you know you have reason to worry!)"but a patzmar mortar landed in your living room. Your children were there but Boruch Hashem, nobody was hurt." What took the cake was that after this attack on his way home from work, her husband's station wagon took a direct hit through its back window. Mercifully, the mortar lodged in the back of the driver's seat without exploding.

One of the things I could not accept at that time was the apathy of many people in our country. I would speak to folks here in Netivot begging them to join me at rallies. "Even if you are not pro-settler," I would argue, "be selfish! Think logically: if these brave people are no longer there in the Gush WE in Netivot will sustain rocket attacks." People looked at me as if I was crazy! I hate saying, "...told you so!"

So tonight, tired from the fast I brace myself emotionally for a difficult week. A week steeped in memories made even more poignant when I see the sad situation of so many of these dauntless settlers. Unemployed, many have used much of their meager compensation payments to keep food on their tables. Compenation settlemnets? What a joke- as if anything physical could possibly compensate them for the horror they endured!

Let us pray as one that next year at this hour we'll be drunk with elation. Dancing, leaping and singing in ecstasy at the Kotel Ha'maaravi with the coming of Mosiach, no longer in fear of yet another expulsion led by those blind with self-importance and drunk with narcissism.


Anonymous said...

the gush katif evacuation brought me to tears then, and it does now. horrible stuff. but if you think it would have sent you to a nuthouse, there really is something wrong with you. jews have survived far far worse. gk was not as great a tragedy when seen from the perspective of jewish history.
and as i understand it, the gushies would have gotten much more if they had left at an earlier date, so to an extent, their lack of compensation is their own fault.

Batya said...

a, how dare you blame the victims!?
Disengagement was done by Jews against Jews. That makes it among the worst of atrocities!!

Netivotgirl, thank you for writing.

Hadassa said...

Anonymous, you're wrong on a few counts.
1) There are few greater tragedies than Jews expelling Jews from their homes on Jewish land for the purpose of giving that land to the enemy. True, this isn't the first time that it's happened - but that doesn't make it any less tragic. If anything it makes it worse. True, there have been many other tragedies on Tisha B'Av, including in Israel - but they were perpetrated by non-Jews.
2) Many expellees have required psychological treatment. Sometimes only a few conversations in order to sort out feelings and get back on track. Sometimes more. There were a few cases of hospitalization. Physical suffering has also been documented: miscarriages, heart attacks, increased incidences of cancer. The same happened after Yamit. Check the archives.
3) The residents who signed early are often worse off than those who waited until the end. Ganei Tal signed early and the government broke all promises. Signing early made future negotiations more difficult. Dugit, one of the few non-religious communities in Gush Katif, signed and left early and still the government did not fulfill promises made. I have had the dubious honor of translating many documents for the Committee of Gush Katif Communities and I can tell you without a doubt, signing or leaving early did not improve anyone's situation. In general, those who stayed and fought the expulsion are doing much better socially and mentally than those who didn't.
Netivotgirl, G-d willing we'll be your neighbor's once again. Keep writing. More people need to hear.
Hadassa DeYoung, K'far Darom/Elon Moreh

Anonymous said...

muse, i blame the victims only insofar as they caused their own suffering. i do not blame those who left early in order to get the govt payoffs. the us has a similar policy -- called eminent domain. [i need to check hadassas info. for example, how does evacuation cause cancer?]
there are a number of reasons why the tragedy of gk is not as great as you are making it out to be. that it was jew-on-jew is a cause for celebration, as jews are able to do this in their own land.

Batya said...

a, you don't know what you're talking about. eminent domain is for a highways or hospitals, not to give enemy terrorists land to bomb and murder one's citizens.
And it's a known fact that stress fouls up, weakens the body which raises suseptibility to cancer.

Netivotgirl said...

How convenient that you sling mud hiding behind "Anonymous."

You wrote, "..if you think it would have sent you to a nuthouse, there is really something wrong with you."
Well, I would prefer to err on the side of too much "ve'ahavta la'reacha k'mocha" than be apathetic as so many Jews today are.

How sad that at the end of a fast held, among other reasons, to teach us the perils of "sinat chinam," you find it fitting to post such a disgusting note.

Hadassa said...

Jews committing anti-Jewish acts on Jewish land. Anonymous, do you really consider that to be a cause for celebration? Misuse of power is never a good thing. Misuse of power on those closest to oneself is even more despicable.
Check the archives for reports on the changes in health of the expellees from Yamit, Gush Katif and northern Shomron. The figures are there. I've read them in Hebrew. I don't know how much has been translated into English, so don't assume that if you can't find information in English that it's not there.

Anonymous said...

sigh. i dont consider my note disgusting [see the opening words in my first comment, for example], just not in agreement with the sentiments generally expressed on this blog.
the "real reasons" for the disengagement have been batted around ad nauseum, and there is really no clear evidence in any direction; this is, in part, why there are so many views on the matter. we will never know if sharons original plan was correct since he unfortunately left the scene before his plan was complete, and he left an incompetent in his place. i do not believe that sharon gave up gk with the intention that the enemy should "bomb and murder one's citizens."
if the us can use eminent domain for a highway, it can be used to save lives [as understood by the govt at the time; see above re: "real reasons."]
i find the very idea that we have jewish-controlled land, with the even entertain-able option of being able to give it up, a cause for celebration, or at least a silver lining.
reading over my comments, i find no sinas chinam or 'mud-slinging.' just a different perspective. a little balance and respect, please!

Hadassa said...

Anonymous, several top military officers have admitted in writings made public that the expulsion was purely political, and they knew it before the expulsion. Several warned against it. One either resigned or was ousted when he refused to agree with the expulsion.
Have the Arabs ever responded to gains of territory with anything other than increased attacks on the rest of Israel?
This was not a case of "eminent domain". The Israel government did not use the property taken for its own use. The Gaza Strip isn't even serving as a buffer zone. When "eminent domain" is used, a government does not give the land to a foreign government.

Your first sentence does little to compensate for the ignorance and insensitivity of the rest of your comments. The "silver lining" to which you refer is twisted thinking at best. We should celebrate the ability to return Jewish land to Jews, not the "ability" to give it to the enemy.

Batya said...

Hadassa, very well said. thanks