Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remembering Gush Katif of the Past and Preparing for GK of the Future

My dear friend, Anita Tucker wrote an email about what it was like for her community Netzer Hazani to commemorate the night that their families were pulled out of their homes in Gush Katif six years ago. But they didn't stop at the past. They went further to help prepare the next generation to enter their new community of Yesodot, may it be built speedily.
I had been in Netzer Hazani many times and had visited Anita in her celery hot house. Those are memories I will have IY"H always.
But foolishness and evil have destroyed Gush Katif. We still have our memories, and B"H, the expellees of Gush Katif, still have the spirit that made Gush Katif a paradise.

Anita's letter is so moving, I had to share it with you. You can contact her and even help Netzer Hazani move forward by writing to:


Dearest friends,

Last night I was right here in the ein tzurim temporary site at our Netzer Hazani yearly commemoration of the 13 Av (Aug. 17) -- the day we were actually forced out of Netzer Hazani.

We have been commemorating every year these last six years, each year in a
nother special way.

This year we commemorated by emphasizing the nostalgia of the experiences of a farming community of young idealistic families. It began with some of families parting with Gush Katif sand that they still had in boxes in their shed in order to enable the children to feel and the warmth and the hugging fineness of this sand, this land of their forefathers as they gently poured the sand into small bottles, sealed them and designed an expressive label that would be pasted on the bottles.

The next activity was with the youngest, the third generation building a model of our moshav. The children divided into groups and each group recreated with paper and cardboad and everything in site another aspect of the physical Moshav. Trees, houses, community buildings, sports facilities. The teenagers, who were the madrichim in this part of day and helped the little ones get it all together, were very very moved. They recalled and debated between them where exactly each tree and building stood with tremendous love and connection to the place and pain as they absorbed that time can erase from their memories the realities that were because of their tendor age at the time the trauma of expulsion and destruction began.

Each chld felt it important that their family home be shown in its glory and that the community facilities be in exactly the right spot as they were in reality.

Next part of the program was a huge truck bought a truckload of sand to the area near the community building in the caravillla site. It was pushed up by our tractor drivers to be as tall a sand dune as possible. The all the children ran to the top of the dune and slid down. Many of us grandmas tried if out as well but -- after one slide we knew that all efforts could never replace the very special Netzer Hazani, Gush Katif sand dunes other than going back home again some day bimhera beyameinu!

Then a few hours later we began the adult and youth commemoration--Kobi Arieli, the chareidi media person -- was the MC -- and expressed with sincerity his emotion on hearing amazing stories of those first years -- and never realized all that the mesirut nefesh involved and the so integrated population that were building the Jewish towns in Gaza.

One of our ladies, Tamar Mamman told how every Shabbat the "entire " moshav would eat seuda shlishit together each time in another home. The first homes were literally built with prefab slabs of concrete on the sand with the soft sand as paths and roads -- and we had to move in with tractors that even they would also sink in the sand.

So on their first Shabbat in the yishuv --they were family # 18 and moved in directly to new home without the temporary stay in Kfar Darom -- Tamar and Chaim Mamman were leaving the seuda shlishit in someone's home -- and suddenly couldn't figure out which was their home as the all looked the same dropped in some straightened out sand among all the sand dunes. They recalled that they had left the broom outside and started checking each house entrance to recognize ther broom and finally got home.

I told how that we began in a time when there were no foreign workers and no local workers --only our own Avoda Ivrit -- each family had to work their own farm on their own. There were no nurseries, and no kindergartens and our toddlers babies grew up crawling around the sand in the greenhouse -- and nashing tomatoes they pulled off from the lowest trusses as they crawled around. One of my daughters whose name is Tamati -- was always nicknamed as a tot, tomato --as that was her natural environment.

The challenges were enormous but the experiences and accomplishments were accordingly.

Kobi Arielli the MC was visibly moved by having learned about the nostalgic roots of the first Gush Katif community. He of course had us rolling in laughter with his jokes about Jewish community life in general. The laughter and story telling were the best possible therapy that we could have had for the most difficult day of the year for all of us . Our life endeavors, our roots in our little piece of Eretz Yisrael are again empty sand dunes -- thirty years of devotion to the special dear land totally erased.

The only saving grace is that we can still laugh, although accompanied with pain, and strive to build anew as the spirit and values are carried on by the generation that grew up in the greenhouses eating tomatoes and sliding down the sand dunes. We see every day how the realize what a zchut they had to grow up in this special piece of Eretz Yisrael. Their little parcel the inheritance of Shevet Yehuda.

Shavua Tov, Anita

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