I no longer know where I am. Yesterday really threw me for a loop. But I guess that’s my fault. Nothing should surprise me anymore.
The two stories ? one: the welfare agency is planning on ‘taking’ children from their parents who are arrested resisting expulsion and placing them with foster families, barring grandparents, aunts or uncles who will voluntarily give them a place to live, until their criminal parents are released from jail; and two: the young teenage girls, fourteen and fifteen, who must either stay in jail or live on a kibbutz. They cannot be sent home to Daddy, because he opposes the expulsion, and they cannot be sent to Mommy, because she lives in Gush Katif, and they cannot be left under house arrest, because at home they will continue their disruptive activities against the expulsion, and will have a ‘negative’ influence on their friends.
It makes you want to cry. This is what we prayed for, for two thousand years?
But, yes, there are miracles. Still, appearing before our eyes. The first, and the most amazing, in my opinion, is that people are continuing to make Aliyah, continuing to come live in Israel. A few days ago, a plane-load of new French immigrants arrived. This summer, if I’m not mistaken, Nefesh B’Nefesh, one of the most important organizations in existence today, is bringing some four full planes of new Israelis from America to the ‘promised land’. In a few weeks, our wonderful Hebron Fund associate director, Ziva Glanz, is making Aliyah with her husband Daniel and their infant. True, we lost a fabulous worker, but we’re making that up with a new Israeli family. And as far as I’m concerned, the latter is much more important than the former.
When people I meet, on groups touring or via email, inform me that they’re making Aliyah, well, it makes my day. There’s nothing more important a Jew can do today than come live in Israel. But looking around at what’s happening here in Israel, I ask myself, why would anyone in their right mind want to come live here? You’ve got to be crazy. And it’s not a case of ignorance. Today, everything is available on the Internet, and just about everybody knows everything. So why are they coming? Israel, summer 2005, is probably the last place on earth anyone would want to be. Democracy is being overrun by tyranny, the police and judicial system are fully corrupt, and the Israeli army can no longer be accurately called the IDF ? the Israeli Defense Forces. Rather than defending its citizens, the army is being ordered to attack and expel Jews from their homes. Now it’s the IEF ? the Israeli Expulsion Forces.
But the planes are still arriving with new batches of Israelis. Why?
This morning, I attended a special event at Ma’arat HaMachpela. Tamar and Koshet Menlon celebrated their son Aviel’s Bar Mitzvah. The Menlon’s arrived in Israel when Aviel was two, eleven years ago. At first, they lived five families together in one caravan-house in Kiryat Arba. Now, they have their own home. They made Aliyah from northeast India, a place between the former Burma and Bangladesh, and are known as B’nei Menashe ? long-lost Jews from the tribe of Menashe, who have been missing since the days of the First Temple Era, thousands of years ago. Koshet Menlon, back in the old country, was a high-level administrator in the government offices of his locality. Today, he works for a very low salary at a local carpentry business in Kiryat Arba. To try and make ends meet, Tamar cleans the neighborhood school every day, and sometimes, also people’s homes. The Menlons, a family with five children, have little material property to speak of. A roof over their heads, clothing and food ? the very basic necessities of life.
But at Aviel’s Bar Mitzvah, I didn’t see any unhappy people. Together with their family and friends, the Menlon’s celebrated, not in a lost, forsaken place in the middle of nowhere; rather, they celebrated at Ma’arat HaMachpelain Hebron. After thousands of years of being lost, these people have come home. Really home. To Hebron, the first Jewish city in Israel. When you stop and think about it, it’s mind boggling.
So, here we have it ? two very distant extremes, which can almost tear you apart. If not physically, than psychologically. The horrors of expulsion and abandonment, Israel, summer 2005, and the magnitude of Jews coming home, from America, from France, from India, from anywhere, you name it. It’s a dichotomy that’s difficult to fathom.
So, why? I can only suggest my answer.
If you listen to, or read, news concerning the present war for Gush Katif, you may have frequently heard the word “Kissufim” or “the Kissufim junction”. When you drive the roads to most of the Gush Katif communities, N’vei Dekalim, Kfar Darom, etc, there is only one entrance, and that is via the Kissufim junction. It makes no difference if you arrive via Ashkelon or Be’er Sheva; you must arrive at the Kissufim junction. Driving straight for a few minutes, passing entrances to various small moshavim and other communities, you arrive at the Kissufim checkpoint, which presently seals off Gush Katif from the rest of the country, turning it into something of a ghetto. From the Kissufim checkpoint, you continue on a desolate road, lined with decrepit Arab shacks, called by some “houses”, which the terrorists use to take cover in order to shoot at Israelis driving on the road. (The Supreme Court forbade the army from destroying these wretched hovels, resulting in continued attacks, bloodshed and murder.)
Eventually ,you cross over a bridge, taking you into Gush Katif proper.
The Kissufim junction is currently a flashpoint – ‘the place’ to get to, or better put, to get through. It was the original target of last week’s Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council march. However, despite what you read in the press, people are still getting through. And you’ll forgive me if I don’t reveal how. At least, not yet. The day will come….
In any case, Kissufim has, in the current lexicon, a special significance. But not too many people pay attention to Kissufim’s real meaning. The definition of “kissufim” in a Hebrew-English dictionary will likely be “yearning” or “craving”. Kissufim really is a major junction, a crossroads, not only connecting Gush Katif to the rest of Israel, but also linking Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, to Eretz Yisrael, to our homeland. For thousands of years, the uttering of “Next Year in Jerusalem,” a spiritual clinging to Hebron, to Bethlehem, to Jerusalem, a soul-hunger so strong, so deep, so transcendental that it outlasted the most rampant, virulent anti-Semitic hate for Jews – thesekissufim, these desires, they kept the Jewish people alive. Pogroms could kill the body, but they could not destroy the spirit. The spark of Eretz Yisrael, one of the essential ingredients in a Jewish soul, could not be doused. The kissufim, the yearning for our land, for our cities, for our very soul, was stronger than the knives, axes and guns.
So too today. The Kissufim junction joins so very much: it links the north and the south, Gush Katif to the rest of Israel. But even more, it signifies the dreams of Am Yisrael from time immemorial, the dream of coming home, of settling the land, of living the way a Jew is supposed to live, the way a Jew was created to live.
And that is why today’s events are so heart-wrenching, because they negate the very ideals that kept us going for over two millennia. Now, after having fulfilled the dream, we’re going backwards, and it doesn’t make any sense.
But the Jewish people do not give up. The kissufim of our fundamental nature are much stronger than dictators, generals and plainly stupid people. We’ve gone through it before and been victorious. That’s why Ziva and Daniel Glanz, together with thousands of others, will make Aliyah this summer, the summer of horrors, 2005, and why families like the Menlons can live they way the do here, in Eretz Yisrael, as opposed to ‘the good life’ back there in the long-lost Shangri-La of northeast India. Because our kissufim, our longing, our desire, our yearning to live what we really are – these kissufim overcome all else that may seem to stand in the way.
And that is why we will not give up ? not now, not ever. That is why next week, tens of thousands, and in the end, I expect, hundreds of thousands, will take to the streets, marching in one direction ? from all directions, but marching in one direction, marching towards our kissufim, the kissufim that kept us alive through the generations, towards the Kissufim that will continue to bind us to our land ? from Morag to Homesh, from Kfar Darom to Sa-Nur, from Eilat to Kiryat Shemona, the kissufim that unite Am Yisrael with Eretz Yisrael, forever.