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.
On the day of Disengagement one of the generals came to our house and told us, “It’s better for you to leave now. If you wait for tomorrow then we’ll have to use different techniques and it’s not good for the kids.” We felt intimidated but decided to stay until the end.
The next morning, a soldier knocked on our front door. We were eating breakfast. He asked me, “Are you the owner of the house?” I answered, yes. He went on to say, “I am sorry but you have 30 minutes to pack your things and get out of the house.” So there we were in the middle of eating breakfast. We told our children to put together a small backpack. We didn’t pack anything. All our belongings remained in the house. We didn’t know where we were going.
A half hour later came another knock on the door. I looked outside and I saw that army surrounded my house. We were told to get out of the house and into the bus. The soldiers escorted us on all sides as we walked to the bus. They made a line on the right and on the left. Even if you wanted to escape, you couldn’t. So I asked them a question: “Why do you want to help Hamas be in power? I don’t understand.” I didn’t receive an answer. And that was the last time we saw our house.
We had two pet rabbits. When we went on the bus we saw them from the bus windows. They were looking at us – and only then did we remember them. We wondered who would feed them. The kids tearfully said goodbye to their rabbits.
We stayed in our house until the last minute. We were one of the last families removed. The soldiers drove us to Jerusalem.
What we left behind: My job, our kids’ schools and our community.
Feelings toward the State: I think that the State of Israel is totally irrelevant. I am still happy that I’m in Eretz Yisroel but I didn’t understand why the government wanted to help its enemies.
The biggest difficulty: To have to make a new start at the age when you want to reap the benefits from the fruit that you’ve sewn. When your own people do this to you, it’s very hard on you.
What happened to their community: All my close neighbors and friends went to different places. We’re still in touch but it’s not the same thing. We don’t have that special neighborly connection with each other anymore.
Something good that’s happened since: Luckily enough for us my wife has a friend who was connected to Rav Modechai Eliyahu, of blessed memory. We asked him what to do after the Disengagement. We were hopeless. He asked me where I worked? I told him I was still working part-time at a Netivot school. The Rav said then that we should move to the Netivot area and everything will be good for us. So we only stayed 3 weeks in a Jerusalem hotel unlike most of the people who stayed for 8 months. Within 3 weeks we rented a house in the small and pastoral community of Kfar Maimon.
We were able to find work in the re-established Netzarim community in Halutza. Ora as kindergarten teacher and myself in the newly built yeshiva teaching English. Baruch Hashem we have now built a house in Nitzan.
What do you wish for yourselves: I now wish that the interaction between the people be better. Everyone is closed in his own house. I have work, our children have good schools, we have a nice house, the surroundings are beautiful but now we have to work on building a new community that cares for one another.
I really hope that Disengagement will not happen again. Giving away the land of Israel is not negotiable.
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