Monday, August 08, 2005

Israel: The Feeling, The Mood, The Reality - Part V

We sit in a dense traffic. My face pressed against the bus window, watching private cars and public busses from all around the country inching towards a common destination. At every junction, the merging traffic is like hundreds of branches drawing towards the root. Groups descend from the busses, turn to face the sun setting over Gaza, and begin praying Mincha(afternoon prayer service). The sky is red, the mood orange – and we are four kilometers from Sderot.

Cars line the side of the kvish (road), as people make their way to the entrance of Sderot. We join the masses making their way down to the center of the town. From the blaring speakers it seems that the program has already begun. We weave our way through a plethora of bodies – mothers pushing baby carriages, grandfathers leaning on canes, families with sleeping bags on their backs, teenagers strumming guitars, children running around, girls sitting on the grass, newsmen atop of vans, plain men selling watermelon – alas, we reach the podium.

MK (Member Knesset), Effi Eitam, has just been introduced to address the crowd. Everyone cheers when his name is announced. When the “disengagement” of the settlements in Gaza and Northern Samaria had been voted in, Eitam resigned his post as a minister in Arial Sharon’s government and is a major activist in the anti-expulsion of Jews from their own land. With a voice raised in passion and a fist raised in defiance, Eitam says, “A Jew does not expel a Jew”. The crowd roars.

Rabbi Drukman, the leader of the Bnei Akiva movement, ends his speech with a song, one of victory. The crowd sings along.

“On the way here, a reporter asked me, ‘when are you going home [from this anti-expulsion rally]?’ I’m going to answer him in front of all of you: we are not going home; we are home. This is our home: Sderot is our home, Gush Katif is our home, Northern Samaria is our home”. These are the words of Rabbi Alon, the head of Yeshivat Hakotel.

Speakers call on Prime Minister Arial Sharon to come here, to Sderot, and see true democracy. They say to Sharon, “Don’t to be a dictator”; they tell him, “You can go down in history as a great man, or you can go down as the opposite”. But the theme most stressed throughout the night was, “The army, the police, are not our enemy; they may use violence, but we will not. They are our brothers and we will not fight them – no matter what”.

The crowd of an estimated 35,000 men, women and children, after the speeches have come to silence, start on their way to Ofakim, where they will camp out until six o’clock the next evening; then they will continue on to Gush Katif. I myself have a flight to catch in twenty-four hours and start the daunting task of hitchhiking back to Jerusalem. After a half hour of fruitless thumbing the air, a man stops and offers to take me as far as Efrat. Once we reach Tzomet HaGush, he lays down an ultimatum: either you tremp (hitchhike) from here to Jerusalem, a twenty minute ride, or you sleep by me tonight and catch a bus in the morning. Only in Israel will a man you’ve met an hour ago for the first time invite you to his home for a night. Though we choose to tremp, it is people like these, who see another Jew as someone they’ve known their whole lives and not some foreign stranger they’ve just met, what Israel is lacking.

Imagine: every person in Israel would invite an unfamiliar “hitchhiker” – be it a physical or a spiritual one – to their home for a night, or even for a Shabbat meal; what would Israel be like then? I doubt we would be having this “Orange vs. Blue” conflict.

But now I sit in Ben Gurion Airport, watching the multitude of human traffic bustling about, and cannot help but reminisce to a time when we all left Egypt together, stood “with one heart” at the foot of Sinai, “hitchhiked” as a nation through the desert, and reached, not individually, but as the Jewish People, the Promised Land.

As the Torah is not a history book – even one of historical proportions – but rather a guide – to the perplexed and, especially, to those in the “know” – to life, ‘those’ times occur and reoccur every second of our lives.

So, yes, today the Promised Land doesn’t look so promising. But if we were to read the “writing on the scroll”, a scroll that was given solely for peace, and apply it, that is, “Love your fellow as yourself”, I don’t think the Land would be in confusion.

How do I know? G-d promised it – after all, it is the Promised Land.


Blogger Dovid said...

Great peice, but as a side note, when the Yidden left Mitzrayim, they were anything but united.

8/09/2005 1:55 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

I wrote: 'together' not 'united'.

The point is: the only way we are leaving the present-day Mitzrayim is together (and united), not alone.

8/09/2005 1:28 PM  
Anonymous sister of the bearded one said...

It's as if I was there too. Thank you for bringing your experiences to those of us who live in hicktown USA.

8/09/2005 2:10 PM  
Blogger The Bearded One said...

hey sis!! imagine meeting you here! it's a small small cyber world. (ttto its a small world)

8/11/2005 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great piece but gotta say that its easier said than done

8/25/2005 7:12 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

arghhh why did moshiach not come yet!? (no, do not tell me to open up my eyes) why are we still going thru all this chara?? you would think that after the gush, nothin could get worse. and now (Im not so sure G-d is up there laughin anymore, He must be sheddin tears nonstop), we are goin thru this again with chevron and amona and all the rest of eretz yisroel.


1/30/2006 7:33 PM  

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