The family: Carol & Shmuel Hezi and their six children, Asnat, Eitan, Amichai, Vardit, Harel and Maital
Background: I, Carol, was born in the States and grew up in Canada. I always assumed I would live in Israel one day. My second visit to Israel was as a university student – I planned on studying there for a year – then I met Shmuel, a native Israeli, and we got married. I completed my degree in Israel, and we began looking for a permanent home. We moved to Gush Katif when our oldest daughter was one year old. We lived in Kfar Darom with ten other families while our moshav, Gadid, was being built.
The house was tiny and the water in the taps was not drinkable–not dangerous, just not potable, so we used the tap water for washing and we always had a big pot of drinking water sitting on the kitchen counter. My mother-in-law wasn’t happy that we had to carry water into the house like she had done in Yemen, but I looked at it as my chance to live like a pioneer for a few months. The “few months” stretched into two years…
Our second child, a son, was born in Kfar Darom. Shmuel was a farmer; he grew flowers, tomatoes, and peppers for export, and later, bug-free lettuce and greens for the local market. He also worked as an agricultural advisor for one of the companies specializing in bug-free produce. When we first moved to Gadid, it was all sand, no roads or paths to walk on, just sand. Our four younger children were born in Gadid. The community was like an extended family. I never had to warn my children not to talk to strangers–instead I had to explain what a stranger was, because they had never met any.
Our house – then: We eventually added on to the house in Gadid. It wasn’t fancy but it was large, and usually full–my parents came on extended visits, Shumel’s family and friends from around the country came as well.
Our eldest daughter married and she and her husband rented a house in Gadid (one of the houses built by Ariel Sharon) in what became the “young neighborhood.” Their first child was born there and my daughter was nine months pregnant with her second child when the soldiers came to take her from her home.
Day of uprooting from Gadid: Our two eldest boys doing their army service – they were sent home for a couple of weeks to be with the family. Luckily, their units were stationed elsewhere and were not involved in the expulsion. Still, it was very hard for them.
Our house – now: We were in hotels for 10 months. Now we live in a “caravilla,” a cardboard house that is well on its way to falling completely apart while we finish building the new house. It’s also very crowded when all the kids are home. Our daughter (who now has four children) could not get a caravilla here–they are at another site–so when they come for Shabbat, there are wall-to-wall people…
What we left behind: The community in which we had lived for 26 years. The trees that were finally tall enough to build a tree house in, the garden with fruit trees (one of my sons brought a laundry basket full of unripe mangos to his hotel room), the greenhouses, our livelihood, the sand dunes, the sea, the Beit Knesset – basically our whole way of life.
The biggest difficulty: Economics. We finally have land again, but my husband and I are really too old to start rebuilding greenhouses and be farmers again. That’s for the young and healthy. Nor do we have the financial means to invest and rebuild.
Have you built a house? We are in the process of building a house now. This is not something I thought I would have to do again. It was more fun the first time.
What happened to your community? The community split into several parts. Some are in Yad Binyamin, some in Nitzan (building in Be’er Ganim) and we and three other Gadid families who wanted to live a moshav again are building with Netzer Hazani. So we will live in a moshav again, but it won’t be Gadid, it won’t be Gush Katif. And our daughter will go to Lachish with Neve Dekalim.
Something good that’s happened since: The grandchildren, of course. And one of our sons got married.
What do you wish yourselves? Health and financial security. And a renewed sense of community. And someday to return home.
For more information on making a difference in the lives of these families, e-mail email@example.com. You can also visit their website at www.netzerhazani.org to make a donation. Checks can be mailed to American Friends of Netzer Chazani (approved 501C3) POB 268, Cedarhurst, New York 11516
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