Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
The Hebrew word gazayra means evil decree. Sometimes, a government decree is just that – an indisputably evil order, as when Pharaoh of Biblical times commanded the murder of all Hebrew male newborns. Sometimes, a troubling order is a necessary evil – as, for example, when land is confiscated in order to build a much-needed highway.
The Israeli residents of Gaza are faced with an evil decree. I am not an Israeli, nor do I live in Israel. As I see it, it’s not fair to “talk the talk” and expect others to “walk the walk”. I can’t give my personal opinion about whether the Sharon government’s plan to evacuate the Jewish communities of Gaza later this year is an unavoidable, justified evil, or an inexcusable one. All I can do is give a human face to the implications of this forced move.
Truth be told, until a few months ago, my perception of Gaza consisted of sun-baked sand dunes, camels, donkeys, and a few plucky but fanatical men, women and children living in makeshift caravan trailers, barely eking out a living.
And then…. I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Moshe Saperstein of Neve Dekalim, the largest self-contained town in what is collectively called Gush Katif. Moshe can best be described as a grizzly teddy bear. He is an American who made aliyah with his wife Rachel in the 1960′s, and a war hero who lost his right arm during the Yom Kipper War. Several years ago, he lost a few fingers from his remaining hand while taking out a sniper who he came upon while the “fighter of the holy Jihad” shot at passing cars filled with women and children.
During our chat, Moshe invited me to his home in Gaza whenever I was in the neighborhood. Later, when he emphatically stated with an impish glint in his eye that he “would never lift a hand against an Israeli soldier,” I knew that I would accept his gracious invitation. If for no other reason but to meet his wife, a true eishet chayil.
And so it came to be that I was in Israel sooner than I thought, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh and El-Al (G-d willing, you’ll read about this soon). On this recent trip, I made my way to Gaza and to the Sapersteins who, like many Israelis, fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (hospitality) wholeheartedly.
Within seconds of arriving at Neve Dekalim, my mental image of the Jewish communities of Gaza was turned inside out. I found myself in a tropical paradise complete with waving palm trees heavy with dates, lemon trees in the front yards surrounded by a colorful smorgasbord of flowers, and a glistening Mediterranean Sea in the background.
I visited the Sapersteins and other families. All welcomed me to their homes, which were saturated with an aura of serenity and contentment. The windows everywhere were open to let in the glorious sunshine and the rejuvenating sea air. Over 500 hundred families from the four corners of the world have made this slice of Eden their home.
Rachel drove me around the town, and we visited the Ashkenazi and Sephardic shuls, both magnificent in the meticulous attention given to the detail highlighting their unique cultural designs. The Hesder Yeshiva is an architectural marvel, shaped both inside and out as a Magen David – the Jewish Star of David. No matter where you stand or from what angle you look, the six- pointed design is everywhere.
What struck me in particular was that there was no litter on the ground, no garbage anywhere – except in the trash bins. It became apparent that this place was built with love and bitachon – unwavering faith – the kind that can be found when someone believes that what he has is truly his. The residents view their homes and property the way parents view their children – theirs to nurture, to love, and to protect.
Neve Dekalim has its own hospital, schools, yeshivot, supermarkets, a post office, a zoo, a central library and playgrounds. It is not a trailer camp on sand dunes. It is a self-contained community with a thriving organic produce industry.
I asked Rachel if Gush Katif had a cemetery. It did. “What would happen if the disengagement took place?” I asked. In the past, non-Muslim cemeteries that have fallen into the hands of the Palestinians have been desecrated or paved over. Rachel shook her head and told me that all the bodies would have to be disinterred and reburied, necessitating the sitting of shiva all over again for the families of the deceased.
Those widowed would have to take a week off and have their emotional wounds opened again. Parents would have to rebury their lost children, children would have to mourn their dead parents. All over again.
It was at that moment that the full human implications of the disengagement plan hit me with the emotional equivalent of a Kassam missile.
The Gaza Disengagement Plan is more than a relocation program, where people are moved out of their neighborhood to another. It is an amputation, an abortion, where a part of these Jewish pioneers is going to be ripped out and the seeds of the future that were sown not come to pass. The land into which these people have put their hopes and aspirations, their sweat, blood and tears, is both their child and their mother, for they in turn sustain themselves physically and spiritually from this little bit of earth that they know as home.
I am not judging if this amputation is necessary for the greater good, or if it is an abomination that should never take place. All I know is that for its residents, Gaza is a living, beloved, precious entity.
And for those like Moshe, who have already lost a part of themselves – can they be expected to freely give up even more?
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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than “fitting in.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/a-gazayra-in-gaza/2005/01/26/
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