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by Debbie Berliner


I heard this phrase repeated at the new Israeli museum dedicated to Theodor Herzl, and again in a quote made by Menachem Begin. Like these two great Jewish leaders, it has always been my personal belief that every Jew is responsible for all others. During the 18 days (not an insignificant number!) my sister Cindy Miles and I spent in our Jewish homeland, we visited battle fields and memorials that repeatedly brought home this truth. From the Vale of Tears in the Golan to Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem we stood on hallowed ground where Jewish soldiers fought and died to insure that Israel survived and remained a haven for Jews everywhere.

We spent a week in the guest house of Hispin, a small religious community in the Golan. We didn't choose to stay there in order to meet expellees from Gush Katif. As it turned out, however, Midreshet Hagolan "Hispin" had since August been "home" to refugees from Gush Katif: thirteen families from Netzer Hazani and an additional ten families from other Gush Katif communities. I've heard so many conflicting reports as to how the refugees are being taken care of, or not, and was anxious to finally see for myself. No matter where you stood on the political issue of the expulsion/disengagement, the politics are finished. The homeless and unemployed are now a humanitarian concern, particularly for Jews who love Israel and her people.

Knowing the Sacramento Jewish community to be socially conscientious about the suffering of all nations, I would like to introduce you to two remarkable women my sister and I met in Hispin: Maayan Yadaiy and Sarah Avraham. Both are married with children, eight between them, all under the age of 10. Eyal Yadaiy and Amos Avraham were farmers, now unemployed and ineligible for unemployment due to their status of being "self-employed". Maayan is well known for being an advocate for the expelled families, to insure their plight is brought to the world's attention. Cindy and I considered it a great honor to sit down and speak to her and Sarah.

Maayan & Yeshua Yadaiy (L) & Sarah and Ronitzion Avraham

"The expulsion from Gush Katif struck us like lightning on a sunny day," Maayan says. How could their own government that for years encouraged and supported settlement in Gush Katif, suddenly expel men, women and children from their homes? Up until the very end, most Gush Katif residents expected the Sharon government to reverse its decision. "After a few weeks we understood that now we need to build and settle a new place in Israel. With Hashem's help we will return and merit to see Gush Katif rebuilt, this time settled by even more Jewish people."

Contrary to reports from the Israeli government, it was not prepared to fill the needs of 9000 homeless, jobless people. From what little money families do receive deductions are made before they ever see a check: for mortgages on their destroyed homes; for rent, if applicable, for their temporary homes such as motels and guest houses; $7 a day for the privilege of having their belongings stored in containers "on some army base", as Sarah Avraham said. She does not know where the army base is located. Nor has she been able to view its contents, to be sure everything is there and still intact. If families find their containers and open them for inspection, the army will no longer take responsibility for the contents.

The twenty three families have chosen to remain in the Golan, among people who have given so much of themselves and taken responsibility for their fellow Jews. At the end of March when we spoke with Maayan and Sarah, the families had been promised that a "caravilla" of temporary houses would be ready for them to move into before Pesach. On April 27 Maayan wrote to me, "Today, eight months after the expulsion, we are still residing at the guest-house. With G-d's help we will move into the caravillas (a temporary living camp) in about a month."

The main focus of concern for Maayan and others are the children. They have over 70 children in their group, all of daycare or school age. Living in the Golan Heights, the children need warmer clothing. They will need a school and play room, with games toys and furniture. It is of utmost importance that the children's lives become stable and to do this the families must remain together as a community.

Maayan has a message for her fellow Jews worldwide: "We invite you to enter our lives and take an important role in helping to establish a new Yishuv, thereby becoming full partners in the mitzvah of the settling of Eretz Yisrael? we need you to stand by us and accompany the process with every stage, from building infrastructures and a synagogue as well as the creation of jobs."

Maayan goes on to say, "We would be more than happy to send representatives to keep you up to date with all the details and share with you our financial and emotional status, and of course you are also invited to come and see the situation firsthand. That would be our great honor."

As we prepared to end our discussion in Hispin, I asked Maayan and Sarah what message they would like me to take back to the US. Sarah responded immediately, "Don't let this happen again! Keep the expellees in your prayers and help with sponsorships."

Maayan and Sarah admonished US Jews "to remember that they are Jews, and what happens in Israel ultimately affects Jews everywhere."

With a full heart I echo Maayan's invitation, to do as Cindy and I have done and enter the lives of these devout Jews who want only to begin new lives. All Jews are responsible for one another.

Following is a list Maayan prepared with the basic needs each family in the Katif-Golan group will need to get back on their feet. At the end is a letter explaining how donations can be made.

  1. Aid needed for families -- upon entering mobile homes, for purchasing basic applications. At the time of the expulsion, house appliances were packed in a hurry, and much was left behind. All of our belongings were put into containers (8 1/2 months until now). The containers were outside in high temperatures and in the rain. Many appliances and furniture has been damaged.

    Upon entering the mobile homes, each family will need to purchase basic furniture/ appliances. The expenses will be very high per family, and support by you will be very helpful.

    Expense estimation for basic equipment:

    Twin bed: $600
    Opening children's beds: $400 each
    Clothing closets: $600 each
    Refrigerator: $1200
    Oven: $650
    Toaster oven: $100
    Washing Machine: $600
    Dryer: $250
    Dining table: $400

    Each family will need approximately $5000 to purchase basic furniture and appliances.

    (The prices above may seem high, compared to American prices, but these are the prices in Israel. We contacted store chains to try to get discounts on everything.

  2. Help by supporting farmer families, who have no income since last August and are still waiting for alternative land

  3. Help by supporting agriculture research in the Golan - In order to start new farms. We have a specific plan and will be happy to share it with you.

  4. Playroom & Gym room - We need to open a playroom & Gym room for the children. Games, toys and furniture. We are interested in a mobile room that we will later on, take with us to the permanent settlement.

  5. Synagogue - The Synagogue and furniture that we will later on take to the permanent settlement.
    Benches and chairs
    Sidurim & Chumashim
    Sefer Torah.
    Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh)

We will be happy to send costs of each subject upon your request. Send an email to Maayan at

Dear Friends,

We appreciate your offer to help us with contributions to our fund for those of us from Gush Katif who are rebuilding our families' lives here in the Golan.

If the donation to us is made through the Central Fund of Israel, the IRS would recognize it for the purpose of a US tax deduction.

So we suggest that the best thing would be sending to us a check made out to "Central Fund of Israel." -- memo: KatifGolan group. We would then forward the check to the Central Fund for credit to our organization.

Gush Katif Bagolan (R.A.)
No: 580460459
Bank Acct: #104569 Bank Hapoalim Branch 550
Mobile: 972-54-6673184

Our address is:
Katif Golan Group
Maayan Yadaiy
Midreshet Hagolan, Hispin
Golan Heights 12920

Thank you so much.

Sincerely yours,

Maayan Yadaiy
KatifGolan group

Debbie Berliner is an American who has been actively involved in giving support to the Gush Katif refugees since the expulsion last August through donations and by generating interest in their plight among US Jews, specifically in the Sacramento area, where she lives. Her visit to Israel with her sister in March 2006 was her first opportunity to meet with any of the expellees. Reach her by email at

This article was published June 6, 2006 on Katif Net -- or contact them at


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