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September 7, 2009
[IT IS NOW THE MONTH OF ELUL, THE MONTH PRECEDING ROSH HASHANA, the new year. Normally I go to shul in pre-dawn darkness, the only other living things visible being the packs of wild dogs that roam the streets. Now the streets are alive with people rushing to say selichot, the pre-Rosh Hashana penitential prayers.
Sefardi Jews start to say the penitential prayers at the beginning of the month. Ashkenazim say the prayers a week before Rosh Hashana.
Is it that the Sefardim have so much more to atone for? Hardly. They are just so much more flamboyant about everything. Even penitence.]
[DURING AN INTERMISSION AT ONE OF THE IPO REHEARSALS we attended see Goodbye 39 Rachel and our host went backstage for a cup of coffee. Rachel returned and said "It's mostly Russian being spoken back there".
No surprise. Years ago I was told that when the IPO was organizing a European tour they were told in Vienna that "we had a Jewish orchestra here last month. The Leningrad Philharmonic."]
[DAMN THE CATS!
A situation that was driving us nuts has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
Up to three weeks ago we faced six cats, only one of which was a real problem.
There was Chaleria, my favorite.
There was Muffy-the-Slut, who appeared late morning and early evening, when things were slow at the cathouse where she works.
There were Muffy's three kittens, now equal in size to their mother, including One-Eyed Jack who, upon lifting its tail, was revealed to be One-Eyed Jacqueline.
These five are reasonably well-behaved, and if they congregated in front of our door did so quietly.
And then there was Shitsi. This monstrous dropping from an earlier Muffy litter, this non-stop howler, forever scratching at our screen door, brought out the worst in both Rachel and my self. Our hatred for the beast reached quite irrational levels. However often we chased her away, she returned. It got to the point where we both wanted her dead, no matter how.
Rachel demanded action, now!
I announced a multi-stage plan. Stage One, to get them all away from our front door. To that end I moved the water bowls around to the back of the house, and fed them only near the bowls. It took a few days but they got used to being served at the rear, and started hanging out where the goodies were due to appear. A bonus was that I enjoyed their company while hanging laundry. It was a drag shlepping around to the back, but I figured on solving that with Stage Two.
True, as I had to admit to Rachel, I hadn't yet formulated Stage Two. But at least Stage One was working.
Two weeks ago, disaster.
We awoke to find Shitsi lying on her side in front of our door, nursing five tiny furballs. Not only that, but sneering a short distance away was Paramour 2, another Muffy-produced monstrosity.
Feeding them around the back was no longer feasible as Shitsi could not leave her still-sightless spawn.
So now they are twelve, at the door 24/7, and I'm still trying to figure out Stage Two.]
[[ASIDE: A DEAR LADY IN JERUSALEM ALWAYS WRITES, whenever I've complained about the cats, offering to send a platoon, squad, brigade, division to capture and neuter them. My response remains negative. If, however, she is prepared to capture and neuter human beings, my response is enthusiastically affirmative and I have a list of worthy potential neuterinos and neuterinas all ready.]]
[Lest you think the Nature scene is all bleak, a happy note. Aghast at a tsunami of dog poop on our lawn, I was told to place bottles of water near favorite poopoisies. These bottles act both as mirror and magnifying glass, and frighten the beasts into thinking larger beasts are facing them. I was skeptical, but it works. Praise the Lord for the stupidity of dogs.]
BETRAYED BY OUR OWN or ARE JEWS GENETICALLY STUPID?
Good friends from the States visited recently, people who share my views of both the American and Israeli governments. I brought up a subject that had apparently slipped under their radar, that of the Youth Corps which BHO is planning and which will serve as an army of enforcers for government policy.
My friends were incredulous. "Oh, Moshe" one said, "what you have suffered here in Israel has totally warped your judgment."
"Not in America, Moshe" said another. "Our democratic traditions are too strong for anything like that to happen."
But it is precisely because of my experience here that I see it happening in the States. One of our hopes prior to the expulsion was that our soldiers our boys and girls! both religious and secular would refuse to take part.
The government was as concerned about this as we were hopeful. For an entire year prior to the expulsion the troops were 'prepared' by psychiatrists and psychologists who worked to convince them we were the enemies of peace.
The indoctrination worked. For all the pictures you see of crying soldiers, the great majority performed stone-faced, like robots. Of the 10,000 troops who took part, a grand total of 65 refused to participate.
The groundwork is now being prepared in the States. Anti BHO protestors are already being labeled "right wing terrorists". And I'm certain the shrinks are already in place, preparing programs to convince the Youth Corps that democracy can be protected only by crushing opponents of the government.
The USA will soon be the USSA. The United Socialist States of America.
Of course we won't be around to see it. The situation worsens here daily. Netanyahu is lauded for his adept twisting and turning; no big deal for an invertebrate.
What really infuriates me [yes, I know, everything infuriates me, but for the purpose of this letter, let's pretend...] is that so many of my ideological fellows take heart from polls showing that close to 70% of genetically Jewish Israelis believe the expulsion was wrong. We refuse to see they believe it was wrong only because none of the stated goals was achieved.
The expulsion was wrong, period. If all of the stated goals had been achieved the expulsion would still have been wrong.
Boneless Bibi was much applauded because he made a speech saying Jews would never again remove Jews from their homes. Ignored was the follow-up phrase, "without the proper preparation".
The same speech was made by one of "our own", Prof. Daniel Hirshkovitz, head of the National Religious Party and Minister for Barbie Dolls. He made it clear that only if a quid pro quo was guaranteed would he agree to Jews being expelled.
Rachel dragged me to a meeting of those planning to move to Lachish. A representative of a construction company was making a pitch. I was apoplectic when I learned the rep was Benzi Lieberman, still a member of the Yesha Council. This was the gentleman who led our people at Kfar Maimon, when 30,000 supporters faced 5000 exhausted police and soldiers. The gentleman, through complicity or incompetence or cowardice probably all three sabotaged our efforts to get these supporters to Gush Katif.
Clearly, in Israel nothing succeeds like failure. Instead of crawling back under a rock, this lizard now is trying to sell us homes to replace the ones he was instrumental in our losing. But that situation is standard for this Felafel Republic.
What shrivels my heart is our total lack of self-respect in politely listening to his sales pitch.
One of the privileges of senility is being allowed to repeat oneself. Over. And over. And over. So I won't apologize for the following:
In the future assuming there is a future if history is still being written probably in Arabic the Beginning of the End for the State of Israel will be dated to the expulsion of the Jews by the Jews from Gush Katif.
[SHABBAT MARKED OUR 47TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. And we were alone. Remarkably, blessedly alone. I don't know how Rachel has put up with me all these years. Were we Catholics, she would be destined for sainthood.
At one point in our ruminations she said "I thought you were a mature responsible adult when we married. But you were just an overgrown kid, and remained that way until reaching old age."
If that's not true love, I don't know what is.]
by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
GUSH KATIF VIEWPOINT 154
Sept. 14, 2009
The month of August is behind us. A difficult month the month of our expulsion from Gush Katif. Memories, grief, anger, and the return of the trauma. Each of us relives the final days... the flatbed trucks carrying ship containers, the army bringing in boxes for packing, the notices from the Gush Katif Council always in orange, sending out valuables [photo albums, important documents] always with the hope these mementos would return to our home. The faces of our friends, in pain, had wrinkled overnight. We had aged. The hope, always the hope that the edict of expulsion would be rescinded.
Flashbacks... thousands of soldiers march into Neve Dekalim.
The 'Yasamnikim', psychopaths renowned for their brutality, are dressed in their Darth Vader black leather uniforms. Wraparound sunglasses hide their faces. Their purpose is to terrify us.
Other soldiers wear cute baseball caps and blue vests. The flag of Israel and the insignia of the Knesset are sewn on.
Bad cop Good cop. They walk robot-like towards our home. They are joined by dozens of police. We are surrounded. We kiss the mezuzah in each room. We say Kaddish. We get on the bus.
I never see my home again. There are only films of it being turned into rubble. I suppose by now it is buried in sand. Ages from now archeologists will uncover this piece of Jewish History, another chapter in our quest to have a safe home in our land.
The media people are back. "How do you feel, Mrs. Saperstein? Was the expulsion worth it?" The endless bombing of Negev towns and kibbutzim from Gaza answer that question. The sewer pipes cum shelter in our parking lots, the 'sewervillas', are now a tourist attraction.
The people struggle to maintain their dignity. They use the compensation money to buy food and pay bills. Homes are being built at the top of the hill. It's a tight squeeze. The homes are close to one another. Moving into these homes is bittersweet. The community is almost all together but the loss of Gush Katif lays heavily on the hearts of the people. The new home can't take the place of the home lost.
Moshe and I are planning to build in Lachish. Sixty Neve Dekalim families are moving to the township we will build. It will be called 'Bnai Dekalim', ie, the children of Neve Dekalim.
On the second intermediate day of Succot October 5th at 4pm we will have the cornerstone installation ceremony on the hill where our synagogue complex will be built. You are invited to be with us. Bring the children and grandchildren. See the beautiful land of Lachish!
We will be happy to email an invitation to you.
And if the Almighty wills it, we will return to Gush Katif and rebuild our homes.
My dear friends, thank you for being with us. Shana Tova. A sweet and healthy year from the people of Gush Katif, from Operation Dignity, and from Moshe and me.
LACHISH: PLACING THE CORNERSTONE
by Rachel Saperstein
GUSH KATIF VIEWPOINT 155
October 6, 2009
They wouldn't let us in. The police had stopped all cars. "The parking lot is filled" they explained.
Dozens upon dozens of cars before us and behind us idled and waited.
"I'm giving a speech at the ceremony" I wailed, waving the printed text. "You have to let me in!"
"Try another route" they said.
I called one of the organizers. "It's filled to the brim here" she said.
We eventually arrived. Thousands had come for the Children's Happening that preceded the cornerstone ceremony. A gymboree, play areas, games of chance, clowns and entertainers of all sorts, and sukkot dotted the grounds. Heavy tractors lent the air the definite signature that this is indeed a building site. The hills of Lachish were being made ready for our homes.
Excavated rocks and earth had been carefully piled on the periphery, ready to be returned. Wildflowers would bloom once again. The first sector of the town called Bnei Dekalim was on the way.
Friends and family arrived and hurried over to hug us. These are the wonderful people who have lived through our history in Israel and now rejoiced with us at this first step toward our permanent home.
The official ceremony began with the blowing of the shofar accompanied by Hassidic music.
A rabbi spoke of the significance of this day. "The spirit of pioneering in Israel has never stopped" he said. Representatives of new and old Lachish settlements rose to voice their agreement. A boys choir sang for us.
The Lachish area, mentioned several times in the Bible, will now acquire five new communities. Our town, Bnei Dekalim, will serve as the township just as Neve Dekalim did in Gush Katif. We will provide schools, stores, a bank, a health clinic, yeshivot, a hotel and spa, a vacation village, and a bird sanctuary.
My dear friend, Motti Shomron, is the visionary and activist behind this project. He fought the bureaucracy for four years and had finally come to this day of placing the cornerstone of the synagogue complex of Bnei Dekalim. His face beamed.
I was permitted to speak. Here is the text of my short talk:
I am Rachel Saperstein. My husband is a wounded IDF veteran and terror victim. Once we lived in a Paradise called Gush Katif. Now we live in a plasterboard home in the refugee camp of Nitzan. We are just two of the thousands of people forcibly removed from their homes by the State of Israel.
Today I am here to welcome you to our renewal. You witnessed the tragedy of the destruction of Gush Katif. At this moment you have the privilege of witnessing the creation of a new town in the long neglected area of Lachish.
Our town, to be called Bnei Dekalim the Sons of Dekalim will become the pride of Israel. Built on the concept of an ecologically sound environment, we will bring the spirit of true Judaism and the spirit of ecology together as one.
We are asking you, you who are here, to witness this historical undertaking, to be with us!
Build with us!
Invest in us!
And to those who want to share in our dream, come live with us!
This town is being built on the ground that Joshua once walked. The kings of Israel built glorious cities here, and Bar-Kochba the revolutionary found refuge here. We, the expelled people of Gush Katif, will build in this grand tradition. What an honor! Come and join us!
The day drew to a close. In the distance the heavens glowed red behind the Hebron hills. I stopped for a few moments as we slowly walked back to our dust-covered car. I breathed deeply, enjoying the purity of the air. A gentle wind whistled a tune, the years slipped away, I danced, I smiled. I thank the Lord for giving me the privilege of being a pioneer in my beloved land.
by Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
GUSH KATIF VIEWPOINT 156
October 26, 2009
The tablecloths were black, the napkins grey, the dishes sparkling white. The balloons attached to black lanterns were black, grey, blue and orange. These are unusual colors for a bar-mitzvah setting. But Hadley and Avi Baumol of Efrat are unusual people. Hadley, a tall, elegant interior designer, chose her unusual color scheme for her son's bar-mitzvah held here in Nitzan.
The Baumols are the first non-residents to hold their simcha in our local meeting hall. The simple prefab structure was turned into a first class catering facility through the touch of Hadley's decorating skills.
The results a stunning, happy bar-mitzvah bringing not only joy to family and friends, but something more. An event that brought employment to the people of Gush Katif.
The Baumols visited the Nitzan refugee camp two months ago.
"We have an idea" they said. "We want to do our son's bar-mitzvah here. But more than that, we want to employ only Gush Katif businesses to do the entire simcha. We would also like to raise money for your youth club."
And so they did. This past Thursday their plan came together.
Local caterer Dudi provided the food and table settings according to Hadley's instructions.
The DJ and photographer were locals.
The waiters and waitresses were our own youth serving and cleaning up with a smile. Yehuda Gross hung up his framed photographs of Gush Katif that were for sale.
The Orange Gallery was opened and many guests dropped in to purchase handmade artwork and jewelry.
The Legacy Center was opened so guests could see films about Gush Katif.
Invitations and Grace-after-Meals booklets were printed by our own Dekel Printers.
The local sweet shop provided candy for Hadley's charming 'candy store' display.
Vered's paper-goods shop provided plastic plates and cutlery for the Shabbat Kiddush in Efrat.
Aaron Joshua, called AJ by family and friends, was first skeptical about having his bar-mitzvah party far from home. Would it be as attractive as his friends' affairs? Would people come? He needn't have worried.
His class came by hired bus. The people of Efrat, true Zionists, came by car. Grandparents and Great Grandparents flew in from abroad. The joy and pleasure were palpable. It was not just a bar-mitzvah. It was a sense of identification with the people of Gush Katif.
I started by describing a most unusual color scheme. Hadley and her daughters, too, wore clothes to match black, grey, with bits of blue and orange. Hadley had ordered a beautiful crystal necklace in blue and orange. Made by our Orange Gallery jeweler, Miriam Yifrach, the necklace fit perfectly on her dress. We gave it to her as a gift, our way of saying 'thank you'.
According to Maimonides the highest form of charity is providing employment. The Baumols got super mitzvah points, and they and their guests enjoyed a super bar-mitzvah.
We still need your help when difficulties strike our people.
Make your checks, earmarked for Operation Dignity, payable to
Central Fund for Israel
Rehov Hagoel 13
Central Fund for Israel,
980 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10018,
Shekalim checks should be sent to Operation Dignity, POB 445, Nitzan 79287
Please visit our website www.operationdignity.com for further information.
OPERATION DIGNITY is bringing hope, financial aid and employment to
OPERATION DIGNITY needs your help to revitalize a once proud people.
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