Israel, Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy, Short Fiction, Career Guidance

Location: Israel

Monday, August 22, 2005

Where were you when JFK was shot?

Growing up, I noticed that phrase came up in adult conversation a lot. For our generation the question will be "What did you do during the Hitnatkut?" I'm in Gadid and Nvei Dekalim helping out. Every individual is of tremendous help. We are witnessing a national crime -- anyone standing idly by is a party to it.

The upcoming days will determine the fate of the future of Israel. There are massive forces at play. The army, police, government, media, courts and international community are preparing for a death blow (the first of a few planned ones -- notice how the newspapers our titling this "Hitnatkut 2005" -- I can give you a list of who is planned for 2006). The media is lying outright and the government is deluding itself on many counts.

One just has to walk through Nvei Dekalim to see that there are easily over ten thousand "illegal" residents here -- and not all of them teenagers. I had the privledge to meet senior citizens that came all the way from the US to get in.

There is talk among the soldiers that there will be mass refusal of orders starting this week. It was easy to perceive this from the multiple checkpoints I got through without any real permits. This is besides the fact that they are stretched thin and completely lying about the number of security forces in the field.

However, a growing number of families are finally starting to give up because of the extraordinary pressue. They've started packing. On Thursday, a family moved out of Nvei Dekalim, with most of their belongings. They left behind an old computer and a large and beautiful fish tank (with the fish still in it). I was asked to help a group of Americans settle into the vacated house. Suddenly a six year old boy walks in, his eyes starting to tear and asked "What are you doing here?" "This is my house." I felt like a rapist -- that I had totally violated this boys home and privacy. It seems that the parents had indeed accompanied the moving truck but had left the kids behind with an aunt and uncle and were planning on coming back to Nvei Dekalim for Shabbat. The human tragedy occuring here is enormous -- one helping hand can make a huge difference -- and with all the people that are here it is still not enough.

Another family in Gadid has also started packing (many in fact). However, the presence of additional people has indeed comforted and strengthened the resolve of many of them, and they are now planning on sticking it out. Where yesterday Gadid seemed as if it would quietly evacuate, now there is a growing feeling that a stand can be made. However, these feelings can easily fluctuate.

I've met part of the American contingent that got into Nvei Dekalim. It's a mixed group. Some of them are not religious at all. Some don't speak any Hebrew. Some left their work and went into debt to come here.

We live a mere hour and a half away -- how can we not help?

I'm not sure if and when I'll have internet access again. I just wanted to make this heartfelt plea to all my friends and neighbors. Do something. Anything.

Try to make it into Gush Katif. I can't tell you how many amazing stories I've heard of people who made it in. One brought a whole van-full of people without any documentation and bribed his way through each checkpoint with cartons of popsicles.

Join the marches.

Block the roads.

Go to Har Habayit.

Babysit for those that are going.

Contribute supplies.


It is not only a matter of whether we win or lose. This is up to God. The issue is what are we doing personally about it. This is not a time for passivity. Everyone needs to extend themselves to the maximum for there own selves, for their families, for their communities and for Klal Yisrael.

With tears of anguish on this Tisha B'av that will hopefully turn to tears of joy.

Bentzi Spitz of Alon Shvut


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