by Rachel Saperstein Arutz Sheva October 23, 2005
Jerusalem turned cold and rain poured into our hotel sukkah, so we were forced to eat in the lobby. A sukkah is a temporary dwelling to remind us of our people’s forty-year sojourn in the desert. The lobby of the Jerusalem Gold Hotel, our temporary dwelling, is our meeting hall, sometimes dining room, and the same area where we meet with friends and family amidst the chaos of children’s cries, piano thumping and new guests arriving.
How easily have we slipped into hotel life – no responsibility, no room to clean, no shopping for food, no favorite meals to prepare, no dishes to wash, no plans to make. Our once vital people fighting for their homes and ideals have slipped into lethargy. The country, the media, the people around the world have forgotten us, duped by the government’s massive public relations campaign into believing our lives are settled and compensation has been paid. Far from being settled, we are now threatened with eviction from these temporary dwellings after this Sukkot holiday.
It is said that lethargy is needed as a time for healing. We still cannot look at pictures of our house in rubble. We still weep as we recall the young people crying “rachamu, rachamu” – “mercy, mercy” – in our synagogue on that last day in N’vei Dekalim. We still weep in the middle of the night as we recall home.
Thousands of Christians from over eighty lands were in Jerusalem for Sukkot. They call this massive gathering “The Feast of the Tabernacle”. Their love for Israel is intense and they are not ashamed to admit it. Many wear the Jewish star, the Magen David, as a sign that they are supporters of the religion that is the root of their own. I spoke for Gush Katif at two such gatherings and received warm hugs and abundant tears. To a person, they attributed the catastrophes befalling their countries since the Gaza pullout as the Lord’s way of punishing the world for its complicity in the sellout of the Jews in the Holy Land.
It is raining into the sukkah, for there is no joy in Israel, but many, many tears. Rain is a blessing in Israel, as our parched land must be nourished after the summer dryness. This year, rain brings no joy, for there is a sense of desolation engulfing the people of Israel as they, too, relive the scenes of expulsion. Thousands in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, live in fear that they, too, will be forced out of their homes for a nebulous ‘peace’.
After the Simchat Torah holiday, I will be leaving my beloved Israel for my great-nephew’s Bar-Mitzvah in New York. From there, I will travel to Canada – Toronto and Montreal – to raise money for my people. May the Almighty make my trip successful.