The family: Itzhak and Ora Hazan and 5 children
“My name is Itzhak Hazan. I was raised in a traditional Jewish family in France. I initially came to Israel in 1977 as a lone backpacker and felt an immediate attachment to the people and country. I realized that there was a difference between the French culture in which I was raised and Jewish culture. I returned to France and in my mind I knew that my trip in Israel had an effect on me. I put it aside as I realized that I had to work and get an education. At that time I was studying English and received a teaching assistantship at UW-Seattle. It was a great opportunity for me to finish my studies and fulfill my dream.
“I stayed at the Seattle Beit Chabad. The more I learned about Judaism, the more I wanted to do. For me, Judaism wasn’t just the study of Torah. The more I got into Judaism the more urgent it was for me to get to the source and return to Israel. And the more I realized how Jewish I am, the more I felt the necessity to be around my own people in Israel. As a Jewish person I realized living in Seattle wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t fulfilling being Jewish. I felt inside of me that something was missing. I finished my MA in Seattle and I remembered a group of professors asking us about what we were going to do next. I was very clear that I knew I was going to end up in Israel. I enrolled in a Chabad Yeshiva in Jerusalem. It was through the Chabad movement that I was introduced to my wife, Ora.
“Ora was born in Casablanaca, Morrocco. At the age of 5, because of the war and difficulties in Morocco, her father decided to go to France where it would be easier to make a new life. She received her education in France and worked in the theatre. She performed classic female roles which caused her to start thinking about her identity. Ora went to a library and found an inspiring book on the Kabbalah. She found it difficult to live a Jewish life in France so moved to Israel where she learned a couple of years in a Jerusalem women’s seminary.
We are both idealistic and started married life in a small community in Gush Etzion where I worked as an English teacher. We realized our growing family with 5 children under the age of ten including a newborn needed a stronger community. Co-workers from Neve Dekalim told me that I might be happy in Gush Katif. We went for a Shabbat and immediately liked it. We lived in Gush Katif for six years –until the absolute end.
Then: It was a very special neighborhood. We ate meals together and our children had a good school. We had a 4 bedroom, 140 sq meter house next to industrial zone. We had a large lot – about 1.5 acres – and a very beautiful garden with trees and flowers.
I was an English teacher; I worked at Yeshiva Katif. We had a very nice community; very nice kids; a very nice staff of teachers. It was like being part of a family. The yeshiva overlooked the sand dunes and sea. It was a beautiful location
So for us, though we didn’t live so many years in Gush Katif, it was difficult to figure out what to do next. Because a religious family like us wants three things: a good education for our children, good neighbors, and a good job. This is what we had. It was a good life.
Day of uprooting from Neve Dekalim: A few days before somebody in the community told us that the soldiers will ask us where we want to go – Ashdod or Jerusalem. I said I hope we won’t have to go, but if we have to go, let’s go to the holy city of Jerusalem.