The family: Parents Avinadav and Hanna Kalef; son, Ortal; daughter, Kinneret and son, Ronen. All of three Kalef children married while the family lived in Gush Katif and are themselves today, parents.
Background: “We came to Gush Katif in 1993 from K’far Saba because of the Oslo Accords. We wanted to strengthen ‘the Gush’ and we thought that if we went to live there and many others would join, we could stop the ‘Peace Talks’ from continuing. We hoped that Am Yisrael and the world would understand that Gush Katif is part of the Land of Israel and that it’s not possible to relinquish it to non-Jews.
“When we arrived in Neve Dekalim we left behind jobs, family and friends in the central region of Israel. When we came Avinadav began work in Ashdod in his profession, printing, while I [Hanna] stayed at home. Ortal began high school in K’far Chabad, Kinneret studied at Ulpanat Neve Dekalim and Ronen was in seventh grade at Na’ot Katif. After that I worked as a secretary at the Pelemix factory in Moshav Katif. The commute was not easy for either Avinadav or me, but we were happy to merit living in Gush Katif and we knew that it was very important, so that was enough.
“The children were happy to live in Neve Dekalim and it was good for us to live among the wonderful people of the Gush, despite the fact that it was not easy to leave all of the comforts of the central region of Israel.
“We took good care of our house and carefully tended the garden in Neve Dekalim. We planted many trees. Some of them were special trees such as Yemenite etrog and gat that we’d taken from our Saba Hayim’s – Avinadav’s father – garden. Unfortunately we were not able to take them with us during the expulsion.
“Our daughter Kinneret was the first of our children to marry. We held the henna ceremony in the events hall of Neve Dekalim. There was great happiness and the celebration was special. Many guests arrived from within Israel and from abroad and were very impressed with the special community and the wonderful place.
“Our son Ronen married when we were living in Shirat HaYam and the young couple lived in Neve Dekalim. Ortal married while were living in Neve Dekalim. For both of them we celebrated a Shabbat Chatan in Neve Dekalim and the guests were enthralled with the atmosphere and the surroundings.
“In 2000 when there were many terror attacks, including the attack on K’far Darom’s school bus, the government decided to allow Gush Katif residents to move to Shirat HaYam, which until then had been a popular site for the youth to hold Torah classes and marches. The local council asked us to come live there. At that point there were several youth and one family living at the site. We immediately joined them, living in a caravan with no electricity or water. We drove to Neve Dekalim constantly to bring items so that we could remain in the site. At night Roni Tzalach, Hy”d, brought us his generator so that we would have electricity until the local council could arrange for all the necessities.
“Despite the fact that the living conditions in the caravan were not easy (rain leaked onto the beds…) it was a wonderful and special time for us. We felt that we were doing something important for Am Yisrael.
“We lived for four years in Shirat HaYam and when the community grew sufficiently we returned to Neve Dekalim.”
Our house – then: “When we decided to live in Gush Katif we purchased a house in Neve Dekalim. The house was small and when we were able to we enlarged it a bit. When a new neighborhood was founded we purchased a plot and began to build our dream house (the house in which we were living was intended for one of our sons). Unfortunately we didn’t merit completing construction and the destructive hand of the government ‘finished the job’ before we could.”
Our house – now: “We merited, thank G-d, building a new house in Nitzan. The house is pleasant and spacious. Unfortunately there’s a feeling that the house lacks something undefinable, maybe the happiness of activity that we had in Gush Katif, maybe the sensation that in Gush Katif we had a home and here we have a residence. Something of us and our home was left behind and it’s lacking now.”
Day of uprooting from Neve Dekalim: “Our son Ortal and his wife Dafna were expelled two days after the beginning of the expulsion from Neve Dekalim. Avinadav and I were expelled from Gush Katif on the last day of the expulsion from Neve Dekalim. (During the first days we were able to evade the hands and eyes of the expulsion forces.) Our son Ronen, his wife Tzila and their son Yisrael were expelled two weeks later. They had simply been ‘forgotten.’”