There are so many events about which one ought to write. So much is happening on a daily and even an hourly basis. Slaughter in Norway, unrelenting turmoil in the Middle East, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, revolutions and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse emanating from the maniacal regime in Iran.
So what subject is uppermost in my mind?
It’s six years since the expulsion from Gaza. And every year since then I’ve made it an important priority to mark the anniversary by watching it once again. Lest the memory begin to fade, I review the many video clips of that awful and painful time when Jews were expelled from their homes, which were then destroyed.
I watch beautiful towns laid waste and witness, again, how synagogues of exquisite architectural design were torn apart by the wrecker’s ball. In front of my eyes dance the images of ten thousand men, women and children expelled by force. The crying, the last-minute pleading, still ring in my ears.
And I watch and listen to the most heartrending video of all – the last prayer in Neve Dekalim’s soon-to-be-destroyed beautiful synagogue. The electricity in the air was unbearable; the tears and fervent supplication to the Almighty simply extraordinary.
A surrealistic vision is recorded for posterity. “Tefillat HaBanot,” they dubbed it, the Girls’ Prayer, by hundreds of girls and women. They beseeched God for a miracle, a reprieve, their eyes shut tight as if to banish the unavoidable reality of their expulsion by their own brothers and sisters.
An army – a Jewish army – arrayed to dislodge, to destroy, to expel.
“Please, God!” they beseeched with a fervor almost impossible to duplicate. “Listen to my prayers, do not hide Your face from me. ”
The imploring voices raised in unison threatened to rip the roof over their heads. Even the non-religious reporters, TV cameramen and male and female soldiers stood frozen in sheer awe as the girls’ fervor knew no bounds. Many soldiers shed a tear or two while others cried like children. And all this time the girls paid no heed, but raised their voices louder and higher.
The voices have long been stilled and those expelled have accepted their fate. The media have gone on to a hundred other things and life in Israel long ago returned to its standard form of bickering and delusion. Peace is farther away today than it was a day before the expulsion.
Where are those girls? Where has life led them? How did they survive the incomprehensible emotional upheaval? The echo of their prayer should reverberate through every Jewish soul. It should rob one of sleep. It should pound loudly in the hearts that bled for those girls, for the entire Gush Katif community, for all of us.
Isaac Kohn is senior vice president Primecare Consulting Corp.