The family: Parents Yossi and Sara Layah, and their 7 children: Trtza, Shifra, Baruch, Ehud, Meir, Tziona and Nechama.
Then: Yossi and Sara Layah were born in the United States. They met in college, both ardent Zionists planning their own independent aliya. With degrees in hand they combined forces and eventually found their niche in Neve Dekalim. Yossi put his biology background to good use as a kashrus supervisor for insect-free vegetables. Sara Layah managed their home and taught their children English.
Today: The Shomron family went directly from Neve Dekalim to a 90 sq. meter caravilla. Yossi has been unemployed for much of the time since the expulsion. He was briefly employed by the municipality of the Nitzan caravilla site until he injured his knee. Sara Layah is an English consultant and publicist.
Our house – then and now: Sara Layah points out that life in Gush Katif wasn’t about a house. It was about reclaiming the Land. There was purpose and meaning. “Neve Dekalim,” she says “was a wonderful national religious community in which to raise our children.” Choosing to go to a pre-fab caravilla has made their situation all the more poignant – especially during Sukkot. “We were uprooted. From our house in Neve Dekalim we went to the temporary caravilla and from there to the temporary sukkah only to return to the temporary caravilla.” They have since moved out of the caravilla and built a new house.
Day of uprooting from Neve Dekalim: “We did not want our children to be further traumatized or our pet dogs impounded so we went directly to the Nitzan caravilla site.”
What we left behind: “A precious treasure and land called Gush Katif and a productive, fulfilling life.”
Feelings toward the State: Yossi says, “The State of Israel is the physical manifestation of Zionism, though imperfect. Sometimes it takes one step backwards for every two steps forward. It is our challenge as Jews to make it a true Jewish/Torah State instead of a state of Jews.”
The biggest difficulty: “Lack of employment. No steady income.”
Have you built a house? The Shomrons are among former Neve Dekalim families enlarging and extending upon the adjacent national religious community of Nitzan, established in 1995. The couple says, “We have built a modest house to live in until we can return to rebuild Gush Katif.”
What happened to the community? The families of Neve Dekalim were dispersed into various geographic directions. There are a few concentrations of former residents at caravilla sites in Yad Binyamin, Ein Tzurim and Nitzan. The largest concentration is building at Nitzan and then there are a few smaller concentrations building in the Lachish region and in Yad Binyamin.
Something good that has happened since: “Our daughter, Shifra, then a teenager, wrote the first historic-fiction novel leading to the expulsion of Gush Katif families and destruction of the beautiful and dynamic communities, Grains Of Sand The Fall Of Neve Dekalim (Mazo Publishers). Our children have taken their positive religious Zionist energies and put them to good use elsewhere in the country. They are moving forward; becoming productive and contributing members to Israeli society.”
What do you wish for yourselves? “Good health, employment, continuity… that we and the people of Israel persevere and thrive in Eretz Yisrael and merit to return to Gush Katif.