The family: My name is Rivka (Teitlebaum) Shech. I have 3 grown children and I’m divorced.
Background: My parents, my sister and I came to Israel from Hungary in 1950. We entered at Haifa Port and were taken to the Bat Galim immigrant transit camp. I was 1½ years old at the time and my sister was 4.
When my husband and married we lived in Hadera. We decided to move to Gush Katif after we saw an advertisement in the newspaper about new communities for religious people. We were excited to learn that the new communities would be moshav ovdim where the families are completely independent from each other. The government was going to be building a new moshav, Moshav Gadid, and in the interim we were encouraged to go to K’far Darom and wait with other the families.
There were 12 families and 3 single men. We lived in K’far Darom for two years.
I worked part time in the moshav office and then in the local grocery store, and in the flower and agricultural hothouses.
We had friendly relations with the Arabs. My ex-husband and I didn’t have a car and we took Arab taxis from K’far Darom to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I used to shop in Gaza and Khan Yunis. The Arabs were very nice. We purchased what we needed from them, including fruit, vegetables, clothes, fertilizer and medications.
When we moved to Moshav Gadid in September 1982 our group had grown to about 32 families. I worked in the local grocery store and learned how to drive a tractor. It was a nice and good community. Sometimes we ate the 3rd meal of Shabbat together as a community. Many people wanted to join our moshav.
Our house – then: Our house in Moshav Gadid was 75 square meters – it had two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. The agricultural hothouses were directly behind the houses. Arab-Bedouins worked in our hothouses. We grew 4 kinds of flowers: babys’ breath, clove (for the flower), lavender, and waxflower, along with tomatoes and cucumbers. At the end of Gadid there was an open area where cucumbers freely grew.
Once, at midnight, I saw a flash of light and I thought it might be a bomb or something. I phoned security and they came with their flashlights and saw that a green mortar had landed in near my storage facility. It didn’t explode. I had heard the bombs so many times that I got used to it.
Our house – now: I live in a 65 square meter prefab caravilla – it has 2½ bedrooms and a combined salon and kitchen. I have been in it since Tisha B’Av of the expulsion. It has been 7 years now. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The heating and air conditioning bills are high. I have problems with the plumbing. The government fixes the problem and after a month or two I have to call them back for more repairs. They know me. I have problems with ants and rats. My neighbor’s caravillas are so close that I have no privacy. I have to close my windows and door if I want privacy.
Day of uprooting from Moshav Gadid: They said everyone must leave by August 15th and if not, they would be forcibly removed. I didn’t want to see the soldiers because it reminded me of the ghettos.
I was divorced and alone. It was hard for me. Some people from outsidethe Gush who came to support us helped me pack. If these people hadn’t helped me, I would have been lost. My eldest daughter, a new soldier who was allowed to be home, came to help me. I remember I cried because I didn’t want to leave. I wanted my community, my house, my work, my life. Two days before the soldiers came, I left with my eldest daughter, and my 2 dogs. And when I left I didn’t want to look back – it would have made me crazy. It was Tisha B’Av afternoon and I came directly to the caravilla at Nitzan with my furniture and boxes. From there my daughter and I went to my sister’s house near Kiryat Gat.
My son, then 22 years old, was already at Nitzan in his father’s caravilla. They had arrived a few days before me. My youngest daughter, then 16 years old, stayed in Gadid until the soldiers expelled her. She joined me at the caravilla.
I watched on television how the soldiers took the people out of their houses. It was horrible for see and I’m glad that I decided to leave before the soldiers came to expel us.
What we left behind: All the memories of a wonderful life. It was like another country.
Feelings toward the State: I think the government built the caravillas very quickly, but is working too slowly to give us what we need. Even though the government gave us some compensation, they took our lives away from us.
The biggest difficulty: I don’t have a home. Living in the caravilla is like living in a storage facility. I don’t feel it’s mine. And suddenly I found myself without work. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a purpose. A year and a half after the expulsion I decided to do something with my life. I have been volunteering in a hospital cafeteria as well as working with senior citizens. It fills my week.
Have you built a house? I have been building my house in a new area called Be’er Ganim (just north of Ashkelon). It’s 140 square meters on a half dunam of land. The other half dunam will go to my son. The house has been under construction for a year.
What happened to your community? It separated into 3 other places: Yad Binyamin, Ein Tzurim, and Ashkelon. Here in Nitzan we’re just a small group of 28 families.
Something good that’s happened since: I have a pension from the government. My eldest daughter is married and expecting her first child.
What do you wish yourselves? First thing is to have good health, that all my children marry and I have grandchildren and then to move into my new house, but to never forget Gush Katif.
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