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Holding On

by Rachel Saperstein Arutz Sheva April 27, 2006

I am trying so hard to hold on. Unable to drag our Pesach dishes from the container on our daughter’s farm to our caravilla in Nitzan, we made do with three pots, glassware and paper plates bought at the last moment. We did just fine with our small cache. No one knew that we were winging it. I sadly missed my own things as once again we were using strange items. But we took pleasure in sitting at our own table, smearing butter, cheese and cherry jam on a piece of matzah, in pajamas at 10:00am, with no hotel waiter asking us to vacate as breakfast was officially over. We woke when we pleased and entertained guests at any hour of our choice.

This cardboard caravilla is not our home, but it is surely a home after six months in a small hotel room. We know that this is temporary, and that we will be told to pack and move. We will be threatened with expulsion once again. And so, we hold on, stitch our lives together, move away from the utter depression that had set in. We watch the bit of television we allow ourselves.

During Pesach, we heard the endless shelling of Israeli artillery into Gaza. We heard the voices of our people, out of work. We heard the sadness in the voices of our people, many struck down by stress-induced heart attacks and cancer.

Groups came to visit during Pesach. I speak to the people, but I am not pleasant. I cannot forget or forgive. The Jewish National Fund will be bringing a group here next week; I have warned them that I will not be pleasant.

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day we had a solemn ceremony for our Six Million. I heard the plaintive voice of one of our young boys singing, Rachem (Mercy): “Mercy, O Lord, on your people.” I remembered the same words so clearly sung by our youth in the synagogue of N’vei Dekalim, as they wept and swayed in prayer the last moments before being dragged out by the Israeli army.

The youngsters on our makeshift stage spoke of the Warsaw Ghetto surrounded by barbed wire, of identity checks, of the lack of food, of despair. And I stood and silently wept, remembering the empty shelves in our N’vei Dekalim supermarket, the identity checks at the checkpoints in and out of Gush Katif, and finally, the masses of soldiers who came to pull us out of our homes.

I remembered the Israeli flag that fluttered proudly from the roof of our front porch, and that I saw the same flag, and the menorah, symbol of the Knesset, on patches sewn on the vests of our soldiers as they came to remove innocent Jews from their Jewish homes. Those cherished symbols of my country, Israel, were desecrated by the government of Israel and the army of Israel.

Next week, we will celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Independence Day. This year, we will have no Israeli flag on our caravilla. My heart breaks that I cannot rejoice with the flag of Israel because I am ashamed of how it was used. Instead, we will plant the flag of Gush Katif on our lawn.

Perhaps, someday, when our hurt has lessened, when we can emotionally separate the government and State of Israel from the Land of Israel, we will once again raise our flag over our home. But not this year. This year, we will just hold on.

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