web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Bar Mitzva in Judea and Samaria

Ariel Sharon on a visit to Gush Katif in 2001, before he decided to destroy it.

Ariel Sharon on a visit to Gush Katif in 2001, before he decided to destroy it.

We’ve decided to dedicate the bar mitzva of our second son to life in the communities of Judea and Samaria, with guests and family from Hebron, Itamar, Eli, Gush Etzion, Har Bracha. I have led a number of unforgettable Taglit-Birthright trips. They were inspirational, fun and historically comprehensive, except for one glaring omission. The young Americans never saw the burial place of Abraham in Hebron, the ancient ruins of the Tabernacle in Shiloh, the fantastic mausoleum ruins of Herodian, or the beautiful and picturesque winery at Psagot.

All these things and more, contained in the ancient biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, are off-limits to Birthright trips and not one of its 25-odd providers crosses the Green Line.

That is, except when this policy is brazenly violated by every single Birthright trip when it visits the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall – a contradiction which is conveniently overlooked.

This refusal to allow young Jewish Americans to witness the smiling children and inspired lives of these sunlit communities in the desert reinforces the fraudulent notion that they are mere settlements, lacking permanence, when many are highly developed and well-integrated towns, with every amenity, including very established educational institutions.

Our family is blessed with six daughters and three sons. We’ve had five bat mitzvot already, but this weekend will be only our second bar mitzva, that of our son Yosef Yitzchak, named after the sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch. And we’ve decided to dedicate the bar mitzva to highlighting Jewish life in the communities of Judea and Samaria, from visiting, with guests and family, Hebron, Itamar, Eli, Gush Etzion, Har Bracha and more. All these communities are beginning to feel the pressure of yet another “peace” deal, which puts them squarely in the cross-hairs as the principal obstacles to said peace.

US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Israel on a near-weekly basis to foster an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The principal focus of this deal is Israel’s retreat from the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank. Call it Gush Katif redux.

But just as the withdrawal of Gaza has led to war and eight years of rocket and terror attacks against civilians, Israel’s withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would have much more serious consequences.

Every obituary of Ariel Sharon, whose passing we mourn this week, must of necessity include two themes.

First, that he fought like a lion throughout his life to advance Israel’s security and second, that the final act of his life involved a massive retreat.

I vividly remember the communities of Gush Katif that he dismantled, having taken my children there twice just prior to their 2005 destruction.

Our children were among the last to plant trees in Gush Katif on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, and we did so amid great rejoicing – even though we knew they might be uprooted a few months hence.

The communities of Gush Katif were miraculous, growing green peppers out of the sand dunes of Gaza and sporting a well-stocked zoo to distract the children from the daily horrors that Jewish life in Gaza entailed.

Every tour given to us by a resident involved tragedy. There was hardly a family that had not had a member or friend murdered by Palestinian terrorists, who treated the Jewish residents of Gaza as target practice. To be sure, the IDF responded, and sometimes ferociously. But for all that, the people of Gush Katif, with their beautiful synagogues and scholarly yeshivot, accepted that they were sitting ducks, bringing a civilizing element, agriculture and budding industry to one of the most destitute areas in the world.

They never could have guessed that their sacrifice would be rewarded with the literal destruction of their communities, their forcible removal by the very army designated to protect them, and the dislodging of even the bones of the victims of terror from their cemeteries.

Their tree-lined avenues and sparkling homes were a far cry from the misery and poverty I witnessed on the part of my Palestinian brothers in Gaza City, just a few miles away and a few years earlier, when I visited with Al Sharpton in 2001. The rampant corruption of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, which treated international aid as a personal piggy bank for the enrichment of his cronies, and the channeling of what remained into rockets and bullets against Israel, rather than the building of hospitals and roads, created squalor and wretchedness on a vast scale.

Since then it has only gotten worse, with Hamas, one of the most brutal regimes on earth, imposing its draconian religious fanaticism on the Palestinians in the form of honor killings of young women, the lynching of gay men on trumped-up charges of collaborating with Israel, and the recruiting of children and teenagers as suicide bombers to murder Israelis.

Sharon was an Israeli hero whose decisive action in the 1973 Yom Kippur War to cross the Suez Canal and encircle Egypt’s Third Army was in large measure responsible for Israel’s eventual triumph. But nothing can undo the incessant rocket attacks that Israel has suffered at the hands of a Hamas regime that Sharon’s actions involuntarily created.

The same simply cannot be allowed to happen in Judea and Samaria, a region where so many of the Bible’s greatest stories took place and where the Jewish nation, after Joshua’s conquest of the land 3,300 years ago, began to take shape.

It is my hope that my son, in spending a week in these areas with his siblings and in celebrating his bar mitzva first at the Western Wall and then at Psagot in Binyamin, will also be shaped by the ruggedness of both the landscape and the brave residents who have carved out a Jewish life under the most trying circumstances.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Bar Mitzva in Judea and Samaria”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/bar-mitzva-in-judea-and-samaria/2014/01/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: