Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Heartbreak and Bravery in Gush Katif

May Gd bless and protect these very special people.




August 14, 2005, The Alamo from Moshe Saperstein, Neve Dekalim, Gush
Katif: E-mail: ruchimo@netvision.net.il


It is late afternoon, the Ninth of Av, the temperature has been in the
90's much of the day, piled up garbage outside stinks and we inside
aren't smelling like roses.

Fifteen places are set out at our table and I'd rather continue the
fast than have to sit down and be sociable. My mood swings have
narrowed considerably.

Pessimistic: "If I had two hands I'd slit my wrists".

Optimistic: "Thank G-d I'm getting deafer [so I don't have to hear the
chatter in the house]".

Police vans manned by special bonebreaker squads tear up and down the
streets looking for `illegals' – by midnight we will all be officially
illegal – and many of those sleeping rough will seek a roof. Rachel
estimates we should have about twenty five by morning.

Our home, a spacious paradise for Rachel and I – two toilets, no
waiting – has been turned into a flophouse and Torah lecture hall. I,
who would get antsy if my children and grandchildren stayed more than
a weekend, now stand in line to use the facilities. And this has been
going on for weeks.

Among our guests are Rabbi Chaim Eisen and his wife and three sons,
from Jerusalem. Sunday through Thursday nights, from 9:15-10pm, he
lectures. Lately, as many as thirty people show up. Rachel is
delighted. You would think I would be pleased, as well. Alas, my
spiritual level is so low that I just sit in my room gnashing my false
teeth that I am being deprived of watching "Law and Order".

Adding to my discomfort… hourly public address announcements about
prayer sessions. Prominent circuit-riding preachers hold separate
sessions for men, women, transgender, children, pets. Now, I have
nothing against prayer, preferably silent. But loud exhortations to
the Almighty, with a capella weeping, leave me cold.

8.15.05

From reading the above you can understand why I haven't written in
over half a year. These are heroic times. They call for heroic prose.
Rachel provides that prose; short, declarative sentences, the message
stated and repeated. And what makes Rachel so effective is that she
writes from the heart. No jokes, no artifice. And her heart touches
the hearts of her many readers. While I write from the spleen, in long
and calculated prose. Clearly, my brand of self-indulgence is not what
is needed now.

From reading the above you can also understand why this will be my
last letter. Those who have been with me awhile have read these
pronouncements before, and are either yawning or smirking. But there
are lots of objective reasons, namely that as I write thousands of
soldiers and hundreds of police are smashing through the locked gates
of Neve Dekalim, and our electricity and water may be turned off at
any moment. So I have serious doubts as to whether I'll even be able
to finish this, much less send it off.

Now most of you know me for the con artist that I am, so you can take
the following with a pillar of salt.

I no longer have fantasies about sex, or Glatt Mart salami, or
conducting complete Mahler and Bruckner cycles, or scoring a hat
trick, or hitting the game-winning home run. My fantasies now are
Teutonic, even Wagnerian. I fully expect to be dead, in hospital or in
jail within a week. I have visions of myself shot, or beaten, or
crushed under the wheels of a large vehicle. [In my case it had better
be a very large vehicle.] I don't know if my fantasies are genuine
premonitions, as I've had before, or just my peculiar way of psyching
myself up for the battle to come.

The battle is very important to me. For reasons you all know I am
mistakenly thought of as a hero. There are people here who actually
greet me, without a trace of sarcasm, as "Hero", "Our hero" and
"Moshe, our hero". I cringe with shame. This battle is my chance –
ailing and aging, my last chance – to be a hero in my own eyes.

Added to this is the knowledge that I have twice been saved – in the
Yom Kippur War and in February 2002 – in ways that defy rational
explanation. Better people than I, younger and promising, died while I
was saved. Why? Certainly not to entertain you with these letters.
Right or wrong, I have come to the belief that I have been saved to do
something of worth in the battle, to redeem myself for lifelong
cowardice, to justify my taking up space on earth.

There is more that I could say, even more that I won't say. But time
grows short.

A word about Rachel the Magnificent. When Gush Katif first came to the
attention of the world's journalists it was I who took most of the
interviews. Rachel, lacking in self confidence, did the overflow. As
her confidence and competence grew, and as I faded physically and
emotionally, she took over more and more of the burden. To the point
where today, and only with the greatest reluctance, I do the overflow.

There was a point where I was jealous. But when I saw the brilliance –
no other word will do – with which she does these things, and when I
recognized that my ego had blinded me to my incompetence as an
interviewee, and when I understood that the cause for which we are
fighting transcends us as individuals, only then could I sit back and
appreciate her for the marvel that she is.

A word about the cats. I had stopped feeding them many months ago, and
after a short period of whining they just kept their distance and
watched. An ideal situation. Then, one day, out of the blue, Minie
walked up to me while I was hanging laundry. I melted. And brought out
some food. And so it began again. And suddenly Minie appeared with
three kittens, one gold, one gold, black and white, one gold, gray and
white. Our French neighbor, Edmond, who had been the major food
provider to Ugly, Stupid, et al, left Neve Dekalim several days ago.
The cats seem to have left with him. Even Minie has disappeared. So I
am left with the kittens, whom I feed several times a day even though
we are supposed to be rationing our food. I wonder what will become of
them if…

Above I said I hadn't written in over half a year. Not quite true. I
have attempted to write, on occasion. And, bloated ego that I am, I
believe that whatever I write is worth preserving. So don't be
surprised if I send one or two `bleeding chunks'. They will be listed
as `appendices', as in appendix, a useless appendage.

Finally, as I am pushing my luck by not sending this off before the
power is cut off, a favor: please don't reply to this. Just control
your desire to answer. Without power I won't be able to receive them.
Even with power, I may not be able to deal with them emotionally.

Know that I am happy, doing what I want to do.

Moshe Saperstein, Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif: e mail:
ruchimo@netvision.net.il

GUSH KATIF WILL RISE AGAIN
My Last Letter From Gush Katif
From: Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim



I am crying. Tears stream down as I write this letter to you.

We are packing. Tonight we will receive our eviction letter. The
soldiers will knock at our door and we will answer the door… Tomorrow
we will be put on to buses and brought… who knows where.

Our friends who have been living with us are packing up my home. I am
so grateful they are here and doing this awful work. I don't care if
my things are clean or folded carefully. They are just thrown into
cardboard boxes provided by the army, each marked with our name and a
blue sticker. An ugly red shipping container will probably be put on
our front lawn today, the visible sign that we are leaving.

Residents were called to the town hall for an emergency meeting this
morning. Our mayor, Lior Kalfa, gave us our instructions. Rabbi Yigal
Kaminetzky praised the large crowd of people who did not leave. Eighty
percent of Neve Dekalim residents are here today. We are the people
who have held out to the end under the most difficult conditions. War
weary after five years of bombardment and a year of extreme
psychological pressure, we are still here.

Ariel Sharon has won the battle but he lost the war. He has lost the
people of Israel. He has crushed the soul of our soldiers.

Gush Katif will rise again, at another time and in another place. We
were a source of inspiration, of greatness, a fight well fought, a
fight for the right to be a Jew in a Jewish land.

Gush Katif will rise and the Sharon government will be remembered with
contempt by the people.

And so this chapter is over.

From: Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif

6 Comments:

Blogger Batya said...

For this we left Bayit V'Gan?

I'm totally useless at helping refugees. I walked into one of the hotels and felt paralyzed.
When I got home, I couldn't even write the musings that had been running through my head.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Batya said...

This post has been included in the very latest Heval Hevalim! Take a gander, and let the world know!
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Blogger Ibrahimblogs said...

The post is an awesome combination of heartbreak and bravery. I pray to God so that you overcome the challenges of the trying times and emerge courageous and confident.


This is Ibrahim from
Israeli Uncensored News

11:57 PM  

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