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by Moshe and Rachel Saperstein



by Moshe Saperstein
goodbye 38
July 2009

[I AWOKE AT 2AM TO TEST THE PLUMBING. The plumbing passed the test. Would that my own plumbing were as reliable.

I thought I might as well destroy the ozone layer for a few minutes before returning to sleep. I grabbed a stogie and a transistor and stepped outside. Slugs adorned the screen door, the walls, the walk. I returned for bug spray.

After dispatching loathsome creatures to the Great Wormhole in Space I lit my cigar and turned on the transistor. It was the classical music midnight to 6am program. As happens with disconcerting regularity a symphony had just begun. I know every note but could not remember if it was Schumann or Mendelssohn or Schubert or Shicklegruber. A sigh escaped as I realized I'll have to wait for the announcement at the conclusion. Unless, with my luck, two or three symphonies are being played in succession. With no announcement until all are done.

The air was thick with bug spray and cigar smoke when Muffy and Chaleria made their appearance. I went back inside to get their food. Muffy has a new wound on her throat, doubtless the result of rough sex. She also has three kittens in tow. Where and when and by whom is a mystery. The kittens are impossible to differentiate, except for one who has only one eye. Naturally I am smitten with that one.

Rachel appeared saying the bedroom seems empty without her own 800lb gorilla. I beat my chest and went inside.

Dawns early light. Another day of non-stop fun in the refugee camp is about to begin.

[HAD MY ANCESTORS SWUNG ON THE TREES of Britain rather than Bialystok, had they been landed gentry rather than landless grubbers, we would likely have a family crest. On that crest would be crossed salamis under a pickled herring. And the engraved motto would be — in Yiddish, of course — 'No Moment Spent Sleeping is Ever Wasted'.]


We had guests on a recent Shabbat. With Oshri on duty, Tamar brought the Wrecking Crew. Rachel invited an old friend and colleague. They had taught together at various schools for over fifteen years, and despite our leaving Jerusalem had never lost touch. The guest was coming by bus and I was to pick her up in Ashkelon. It was late and I was anxious to be on my way but Rachel remembered something she needed from our grocery.

The grocery was closing its doors when I arrived but they gave me what I needed. A woman was standing next to my car when I turned to leave, a case of Cola beside her. "Where are you going?" she asked.

"Ashkelon" I replied.

"Could you just drop me at my house? I can't carry this.."

With every nerve in my body screaming 'SAY NO!' I smiled and said "Yes."

My punishment was not long in coming.

She opened a rear door, put the case on the back seat, said "Excuse me" and returned to the grocery, emerging with a second case which she also put on the back seat. This was repeated over and over in what seemed like slow-motion until there were four cases on the back seat, three cases in the trunk, plus five or six plastic bags of junk food.

By the time she got into the car I was apoplectic.

Of course everything turned out alright. But my already delicate mental state was sorely bruised.]

[THANKS TO THOSE OF YOU WHO EXPRESSED CONCERN OVER MY BOWELS. Something exceeding strange has happened. A dear friend, visiting with a group, took me aside and handed me a plastic bottle marked Triphala. "Take these and your problems will disappear." From that day on I have had few recurrences of earlier problems.

Why, you ask, do I say 'exceeding strange'? Because I have never taken the pills. I haven't even removed the seal on the bottle. The bottle simply stands on a shelf in the toilet, in full view, and just staring at it has the desired effect. On those occasions when something more is needed, I reach out and touch the bottle and the problem disappears.

So thanks again, Helen and Charlie!]

[I AM WELL KNOWN HERE AS THE KING OF LAUNDRY. This is not a compliment but a term of derision. In this society 'real men' don't do laundry. That our laundry lines abut a well-used walking path behind our caravilla only adds to my notoriety. Children stop to watch the One-Armed Wonder at work. Women smile, men sneer. I ignore them all. I love doing laundry.

The shirt was bright red. Whatever had possessed me to buy it? I had only worn it to please Rachel, who is always at me for how drab my clothes are. Now it was time to wash it. Having bought it at my favorite El Cheapo shop I realized that the color would run and accordingly, washed it only with very dark items. Without mishap. The second washing, assuming that whatever was going to run had already ran, I didn't hesitate to mix it with a variety of items. Alas and alack! Everything was bright pink. Some, Rachel insisted on throwing away. Others, I hid before she could dispose of them.

At a Kiddush in our synagogue one recent morning someone bumped into me and a quantity of schnapps was spilled on my shirt. I unbuttoned the shirt and there was a deathly silence as my bright pink ritual fringes and undershirt came into view. I should simply have explained what happened, but those standing closest were well-known nudniks who would have bombarded me with "Why didn't you do this..." or "You should have done that..."

To preclude conversation I smiled and said "I'm wearing these in honor of Gay Pride week in Tel Aviv."

Now, when doing laundry, I notice that among passersby, Women sneer, Men smile.]


By Moshe Saperstein
Goodbye 38
July 2009

Poor Netanyahu. Not only spineless, but clueless as well. His last day in the States included a visit with Jewish members of Congress. Most, of course, are Democrats and supporters — enthusiastically or with misgivings — of the Anointed One's policies toward Israel. Even those who see where it is all heading are too cowed to speak.

The situation today, absurd as it may seem, is that believing Christians in Congress are far more supportive of Israel than are Jews. And far more reliable.

Whether or not the American President is The Manchurian Candidate [or, as some of my Christian friends believe, the Anti-Christ] is irrelevant. Indisputable is his fawning on Muslims and his animus to the State of Israel.

Whether or not his principal enablers and supporters, American Jews, are naïve or self-hating is irrelevant. Indisputable is that their efforts are leading to the destruction of the State of Israel. And, eventually, of themselves.

Much of the blame lies with Israel. If you wear a sign saying KICK ME, how can you be surprised when you get kicked? And after the big boys kick you, and you don't respond, the normally quiescent realize its open season and there are no consequences to kicking you, so they join the jamboree. Some years ago I described Israel as a Felafel Republic, the Middle Eastern equivalent of a Banana Republic.

I want to apologize to any and all Banana Republics. Even the most pathetic pretends to have some self-respect. Not Israel.

It wasn't long after the Six Day War that Israel allowed itself to be turned into a vassal state of the Americans. One example:

Israel Aircraft Industries developed a fighter plane, the Lavi, a generation ahead of anything being done by the US or USSR. The US, to protect Grumman or McDonnel-Douglas or whoever else was building fighters, demanded Israel cease the project. Like an obedient canine, it did. And we have seen over the years how the US regularly steps in and orders Israel to cancel contracts for military equipment made with other countries.

It was the Red Chinese, I believe, who developed the term Paper Tiger for the US and its allies. Well, for all Israel's supposed military prowess, it is a Toilet Paper Tiger. If you have the capacity to win, but won't use what you have, you might as well not have it.

When the Oslo Accords were signed by Rabin, in the ruling elite's mindset the Arabs ceased being the enemy. They might still be killing us, but it was no longer necessary to defeat them, merely to contain them until a deal could be made.

The entire military establishment was corrupted by the leftist mantra that 'there is no military solution to the problem'. No one can advance in a military career unless he subscribes to this belief.

But if the Arabs were no longer the enemy, who was? The religious settlers.

One example: A young man of my acquaintance, a kippa-wearing lieutenant, had just completed his doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies. He was asked to give a lecture at the War College. The room was filled with officers from the rank of major and up. Before he could speak an officer stood and said "Where do you live?"

The young lieutenant named a community north of Jerusalem.

"We're not interested in anything a religious settler has to say". And all rose and left the room. If you think this just anecdotal, consider the army's performance during the Second Lebanon War and it's refusal to smash Hamas during the recent Gaza festivities.

Some of you will be upset by my comment that American Jews are as doomed as their Israeli counterparts.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, wrote in the 1970's that if you walk into a bar anywhere in the States, you can hear the Jews being cursed. As long as the patrons have jobs and homes they can vent their Jew-hatred verbally. But if the economy should take a dive, as is happening now, the verbal may become physical.

We are told unemployment is 9.5%. But if you include former full-time workers now working part-time, and those too disheartened to seek work at all, the figure is 20%.

With the Anointed One's administration top-heavy with Jews, and with Jews seeming to be involved in every new scandal, the feces will soon be hitting the fan.

It is a miniscule step from 'the Jews are as corrupt as everybody else' to 'the Jews corrupt everybody else'.

While I might get some perverse pleasure watching my liberal American co-religionists grovel apologetically, a performance that they have turned into an art, I doubt any of us in Israel will still be alive to enjoy it.

Some of you have complained that my hatred of the army and police — actually, I don't discriminate and hate pretty much everybody, with the army and police at the top of the list — is grossly overdone. Even given that they took away my home, my sense of purpose, my sense of belonging, my pride and self-respect... even if they made the physical suffering I underwent, and continue to undergo every waking moment, once a source of pride, now a source of bitter regret... the intensity of my anger seems over the top. I have given it much thought.

I had an epiphany. An epiphany is fraught with light. Mine was fraught with darkness. I finally came to understand that the reason I hate so fiercely is that the one I hate most is my self.

It was by accident, not by design, that the fat, forever frightened New York Jew was transmogrified into Super M in Israel. Not that I took it seriously. But as time wore on, and I became less uncomfortable in my new skin, my behavior followed suit and I acted in ways that would have given my former self cardiac arrest. Without even a hint of false modesty, I say that I carried it off with aplomb.

Then came the period of the expulsion, during most of which I acted in ways befitting my new persona.

Unfortunately there were two incidents that made me realize what I had been is what I still was.

The first was during what passed for our struggle to save Gush Katif.

I would be out nightly driving the roads, hoping to find supporters to smuggle into the Gush. As a resident I could pass the many police and army roadblocks, and I was armed with i.d.'s from Gush residents that I could give to suitable infiltrators. I had many adventures but limited success, which didn't bother me as the real pleasure was just being out of a house already bursting with supporters.

Now it was midday Friday and I had picked up the sons of a couple already at our home. Each of the boys now had the i.d. of a Gush Katif resident. We were stopped at the last and busiest checkpoint and it was clear there would be a long wait. I left the boys in or near the car and got out to stretch my legs and destroy the ozone layer. Walking around, I came upon a scene that has left me with nightmares to this day.

Alongside a string of pre-fabs housing police offices, there was a small compound where people caught attempting to infiltrate — mostly teenagers — were being held. Seated in one corner was a girl about sixteen, very thin, very pretty, very modestly dressed. Hulking over her, screaming, clenched fists waving menacingly, was a plainclothes policeman about thirty. He was almost incoherent with rage. Though he never touched her she was clearly being assaulted. She was crying and appeared frightened to the point of collapse. Everyone stopped to watch. Even the police stepped out of their offices. Not a smirk. Not a smile. Just stares ranging from discomfort to horror.

I wanted to rush forward, tell him to leave the girl alone, to pick on someone his own size. What's the worst that could have happened? He'd hit me? He couldn't damage me any more than bombs and bullets already had. He'd arrest me? Think of what a great letter a Shabbat in jail would have produced.

Instead I just stood there, trembling with fright and self-loathing. Of course I justified my inaction by telling myself I had a responsibility to get the boys to their waiting parents. But I knew the truth:

Super M had reverted to Forever Frightened Fatboy.

The second incident took place about ten days after our expulsion. Individuals were allowed back in to complete the packing so moving vans could remove their belongings before the bulldozers leveled our homes. Rachel's broken ankle kept her in the hotel. As a cripple I9 was permitted to have someone accompany me. That someone was Ari, who drove our car.

At the Kissufim checkpost [also the site of the first incident] vehicles were backed up for two kilometers. Slowly we crawled forward. About two hundred yards from the crossing I got out and walked, telling Ari I would wait for him to catch up. At the checkpost there was a scene to match the scene of the first incident.

A pickup truck was trying to get through. The driver was middle-aged, with the weather-worn face of a farmer. In the passenger seat was a boy, about fourteen. The passenger door was open and leaning inside was a police officer. The officer was short, thin, gray-haired, and in one hand he had a baton. With the other hand he was trying to drag the boy out of the vehicle. The father was crying, holding on to the boy. "Please, I need him to help me pack" he wept. The policeman was whacking both father and son with the baton. He was as hysterical as the plainclothes cop in the first incident.

"This is a country of laws" he screamed. "The boy — whack! — is not on the list — whack! — so he is not going through. We have — whack! — LAWS! WE HAVE LAWS!"

The scene was not only heartbreaking. It was obscene. Not twenty feet away stood a gaggle of army officers, all high-ranking, all pot-bellied, all bald or nearly so. And these Sharon-clones were watching and laughing hysterically. These bastards had killed us and now they were pissing on our graves.

I wanted to yell at them "You couldn't beat the Arabs so you're beating the Jews." I wanted to drag the cop off the kid, to beat him with his baton.

As before, I did nothing, justifying my inaction with the thought that if I created a scene my son would intervene and I didn't want to see him hurt or arrested.

But I knew the truth...

These two scenes are nightmares that don't fade or disappear.

Now that I have been epiphanized, and understand the reason for the intensity of hatred, has that intensity lessened? Not in the least. Though I remain besotted with Rachel, and my passion for the children and grandchildren is undiminished, I believe it is the hatred that keeps me alive.

[Rachel has amazed me once again. I heard her playing an unfamiliar piece on the electric organ. It was very attractive and I asked her what it was. She blushed, and said she had written it herself. I was flabbergasted!

What an amazing couple we are:

Rachel is composing.
I am decomposing.]



by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
July 7, 2009

"Havaya" is a Hebrew word that describes a pleasurable experience. A relaxing day at the beach, a refreshing plunge into a pool, attending your grandson's bar-mitzvah... each is a 'havaya'. My recent 'havayot' [plural] were musical events that gave me enormous pleasure. Let me share them with you.

Our local Community Center music school performed at the nearby Bat Hadar Auditorium. The performances were magical. Our orchestra, the guitar ensemble, a wonderful young violinist and the many soloists proved once again that learning music gives us joy.

I don't like performing. It terrifies me. A grey-haired older person is expected to perform perfectly, and I don't. Something always goes wrong — a squeak instead of a clear tone, a wrong note — and I am driven to tears. Yet I agreed to play anyway.

Forced to choose between a classical flute piece or a Broadway show tune, I chose "Cabaret" and decided to have fun. Putting dread aside I swayed, danced and belted out the music. The audience clapped and hummed along. Shouts of "Bravo!" and enthusiastic applause followed.

The Community Center teachers came up to praise the performance. "We didn't know you are so musical" said one. Frankly, neither did I. I hadn't squeaked even once. A true 'havaya'!

'Havaya' number two. Our good friend A invited my husband and me to a rehearsal of the Israel Philharmonic. Imagine sitting in the almost empty Mann Auditorium and Israel's finest orchestra is playing just for you!

The orchestra rehearsed pieces by Richard Strauss, Liszt and Ravel. They were superb, the pianist in the Liszt was magnificent, and the conductor energetic.

Going backstage during a break, I shared a cup of coffee with the players. Russian was the most common language. The Russian aliya has brought us the gift of splendid, disciplined musicians.

'Havaya' number three. I've saved the best for last.

Mark, a new immigrant from Russia, taught me keyboard in Gush Katif. My hand coordination and my rhythm were disastrous. I would often run out of a lesson in tears. But I kept at it. At the end of the school year I was presented with the Outstanding Music Student award. I was sure it was from my flute teacher. But it tuned out to be from Mark. "You worked so hard you deserved the award."

That was the turning point. We became good friends and I slowly began to really be a music student. I learned theory as well as music history. Mark often added anecdotes from his experience with Russian conductors, performers and composers. He told me of his hardships in Russia and his aliya to Israel. Most of those who left in the exodus of Russian Jews went to the West, particularly Germany, but Mark and others seeking a Jewish homeland came here.

Together we shared the bombings in Gush Katif. Like all of our music teachers Mark and his sister Sofia, who leads our orchestra, traveled to Gush Katif throughout our most dangerous periods. They have continued to teach us here in Nitzan.

Mark loves jazz and played it even in Russia. He decided to teach me improvisation. "Why don't you compose a piece of jazz?"

And so I did. At least twelve bars worth. I brought my precious composition to Olga, our piano teacher. Olga played it, added some chords, and I listened to my composition being played. I was choked with emotion. Truly a 'havaya'!


by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
July 14, 2009

Historically, whenever Jews have been dispersed and forced to make their home in a new place a synagogue was established and with it came the house of learning, the 'Beit Midrash'. Learning Torah was the force that strengthened our people in their wanderings.

The Jews expelled from Gaza were no exception. Forced from their homes in Gush Katif, living in tiny hotel rooms and then in plasterboard 'caravillas', they cried out for help. A kollel for men was quickly established, but our women's need for the wisdom and comfort of Torah was no less dire.

The women had been forced from their homes. They had seen their houses destroyed. They had to comfort grief-stricken children and shoulder the burden of unemployed husbands. "How could the Almighty do this to us? Why? Why? Why?"

Ronit Aharoni and Limor Zakai, two women of Gush Katif, knew that only through Torah study would their questions be answered. Gathering a small group of women together in Nitzan, they invited lecturers to talk, to get the women working together to understand their hurt and despair and to begin the long journey back towards healing. Thus began the first year of 'Midreshet Kissufim', a women's study group started by women and taught largely by women.

Four years later, over one hundred women attend weekly lessons in Torah, Jewish history, and emunah, Belief, lessons giving pleasure and strength to the participants. Last week a yom iyun, a day of intensive study, was held in Nitzan. Through posters and flyers and advertising in local papers over two hundred and forty women from Ashkelon, Ashdod, Lachish and local agricultural communities crowded into Nitzan. They had one thing in common: a thirst for Torah studies.

'Midreshet Kissufim' has spread its wings and has gathered the women of the Northern Negev into its arms. Many women in this area suffered Post Trauma Stress Syndrome having lived for weeks under missile attacks during the Cast Lead War. They had watched their children suffering while in harms way.

At 'Midreshet Kissufim' they could share their fears, hopes and dreams. For many it was their first experience of learning Torah. It has made an enormous difference in enabling them to get on with their lives.

'Midreshet Kissufim' looks to the future. Plans include study via the internet, Bat Mitzvah classes, studies for new brides, and Ministry of Education Accreditation which will allow women to earn academic credit while studying. The goal is to reach all the women of the Negev and enrich their lives.

'Midreshet Kissufim' has turned bitterness into honey, despair into hope.

Please note: Rachel Saperstein will be speaking at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, July 26th, 8pm on "Gush Katif: Four Years Later".


By Rachel Saperstein
July 27, 2009
Viewpoint 154

I would like to share my thoughts with you. This talk was given at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem on July 26 to commemorate the expulsion of the Jews from their Gazan and Northern Shomron communities. The evening was hosted by the the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel and the worldwide Young Israel Movement.

"Don't whine, Rachel!" my friend admonished. "It's over. You're not going back. There is no way you will ever see Gush Katif again, or what remains of it. Just stop whining. Look to the future. Talk only about your future. No one cares about you anymore. You're history. You're yesterday's news. No one cares about your problems. Talk about Lachish. Forget Gush Katif. Forget Gush Katif!"

Forget Gush Katif?

Can we as a Jewish nation forget Tish'a b'Av and our expulsion from Eretz Yisrael?

Can we forget our wandering from land to land as edict after edict turned us into a homeless people?

The creation of the Jewish State was to change this history of wandering. The days of the edicts of expulsion were no longer to be part of our history. The story of Gush Katif proved us wrong. A national Jewish tragedy took place with the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif.

Just as we, as a collective Jewish nation, feel the pain of each calamity that befalls us, the calamity of Gush Katif has affected each and every one of us.

This was not the personal tragedy of Rachel and Moshe Saperstein, or of the people of Gush Katif. This was a national tragedy that affected each Jew whether in Israel or abroad.

Once again we were not safe.
Our homes were not sacred.
Our synagogues were burned.
Our graves were violated.
Israel was no longer a refuge for the wandering Jew. A Jewish Prime Minister, aided by
a Jewish Knesset,
a Jewish Supreme Court,
a Jewish army and a Jewish police force,
trained by a perverted band of Jewish psychiatrists and psychologists,
did what the non-Jewish world had done generation after generation — the expulsion of Jews from their homes.

And as Israel was capable of expelling its Jews from Gush Katif, is it any wonder that the government of the United States of America is demanding the same expulsions in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem?

When a nation is willing to give away its God-given land for no purpose at all...

When a nation is willing to allow its citizens to live under fire for eight years (!) without retaliation...

that is a nation willing to commit suicide in order to win favor in the eyes of its so-called allies.

"Stop whining, Rachel" my friend said.

Don't talk about your life in the refugee camp, in the temporary plasterboard structures that have housed your people for four years. Don't talk about the inadequate compensation — inadequate even by the standards of those giving it to you! — that you had to beg for and is slowly disappearing because there are no jobs and the families need food.

Don't talk about the people who are still paying off mortgages on the homes their own government destroyed.

Don't talk about men and women who still wake up in the middle of the night, shaking, because they still see the soldiers surrounding their homes.

Don't talk about the one hundred and twenty families still collecting food from the gemach each month.

Don't talk about the Bridal Showers for Gush Katif Brides and Grooms because the families cannot afford to buy pots and pans for their soon-to-be-wed children.

Stop whining, Rachel!

Talk about the future, Rachel. Talk about the future.

Okay. Let me talk about the future. Many of our people will be living in Nitzan. Some, like myself, will be moving to Lachish. After four years of negotiations Motti Shomron — a man of vision, strength and enormous faith — called to say that the tractors had finally begun to prepare the infrastructure for our new town.

Where is Lachish?, you ask. Right smack in the middle of the country. Lachish is south of Beit Shemesh, north of Kiryat Gat. Few Jews live there. Facing the Hebron Hills, one sees the encroachment of Arab housing moving towards Lachish. So in Lachish, as in Gush Katif, we will fulfill a vital national role.

Lachish is the site of the caves inhabited by Bar Kochba fighters after their expulsion from Jerusalem. We, the remnants of the Gush Katif expulsion, will settle this land. The area is grape-growing country and one sees the vineyards stretching for kilometers. Our town will be called Bnei Dekalim and will be home to five hundred families.

We will build a five-star hotel, a spa, a retirement village, and cottages for rabbis on Sabbatical. A world-class Judaica library will be built to serve them, and us.

Our spa will be the first truly Jewish spa in the world, teaching the Jewish route to good health both physically and spiritually.

Lachish is an area for migratory birds and we will encourage bird-watchers to visit.

Biblical Lachish will come alive as you discover sites mentioned in the Torah since the days of Joshua.

Our Lachish will be as one with its natural surroundings. Wind and sun will be used to give us energy. Even the wildflowers uprooted during construction will be saved and re-planted.

Don't whine, Rachel. There are wonderful days ahead as long as you stay within the parameters set by US President Barack Hussein Obama.

I have lived in Israel for over forty years. I lived in Yerushalayim for close to thirty years, in Gush Katif for eight years, in a tiny hotel room for nine months, and in the refugee camp for three years. I hope to finally put down my roots in Lachish. I'll be well over seventy then.

It will be exciting to see a town built from its beginnings. Will I stop whining? Probably not.

And if the Almighty wills it, my friends, I will return to Gush Katif.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For an excellent write-up of Rachel's plans, see also "From The Sands Of Gush Katif To The Rolling Hills Of Lachish" by Ann Goldberg in the Jul 29 2009 edition of Jerusalem Post
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OPERATION DIGNITY has supported Midreshet Kissufim projects. You can help enrich the lives of Gush Katif and Northern Negev women through your contribution.

Send your check, earmarked "Operation Dignity" to

Central Fund for Israel
Rehov Hagoel 13
Efrat 90435


Central Fund for Israel,
980 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10018,

Shekel checks should be sent to Operation Dignity, POB 445, Nitzan 79287, Israel

See our website — — for further information.

OPERATION DIGNITY is bringing hope, financial aid and employment to our people? OPERATION DIGNITY needs your help to revitalize a once proud people.

Moshe Saperstein lost an arm while fighting in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. A resident of Neve Dekalim in the Gush Katif area of the Gaza Strip, Moshe was wounded in February 2002 when he drove his car into a terrorist who had just shot and killed a young mother traveling in the car in front of his. He writes frequently of his physical and emotional struggles on the long road to recovery

He and his wife Rachel were among the thousands of Jews kicked out of their homes in Gush Katif, in the Gaza strip, and forced into temporary quarters so dismal, their still-temporary paper-based trailers in Nitzan, seemed a step up. Contact them by email at


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