Friday, April 07, 2006


Passover for a Gush Katif Expellee by Sara Layah Shomron

Passover for a Gush Katif Expellee

By Sara Layah Shomron
Nisan 5756 (April 2006)

At the close of each Passover seder of my youth I passionately recited "Next year in Jerusalem" drawing the conclusion that my place was here in Israel. And in adulthood my actualized dream became a bad dream. This year it is as a Gush Katif expellee at the Nitzan caravilla displaced persons site that my family, along with 470 former Gush Katif families (atleast 2,000 people), will observe Passover.

We have no storage space, no closets in our 90 square meter pre-fab caravilla. One wall in 3 of our 4 bedrooms is lined with large cardboard storage boxes containing miscellaneous items. Once only our Passover dishes and cookware knew such hibernation.

In past years there was always such an air of excitement in readying the house for Passover. The house finally cleaned of chametz and kitchen items packed away in cardboard boxes made the environment safe and spiffy clean to bring down the cardboard storage boxes filled with Passover dishes from the attic. My husband would climb up a ladder while the children and I held it securely for him. He would then pass down the dusty boxes, one at a time, to the children's and my eagerly waiting hands. It was a cooperative group effort. There were a number of boxes to dust off; clean and organize the contents. There was eager anticipation for the Passover seder. Now these very same boxes which once held such loftiness have assumed an ordinary status and resentfulness as they take away living space in my daughter's bedroom.

The eventual removal of the many Passover boxes from her bedroom will not give any reprieve. Soon more cardboard boxes containing non-Passover kitchen supplies will be stored away not only in her bedroom but further crowd two other bedrooms as well.

My husband's reading and instruction of the Hagadda has always included discussion with insights into present current events. This year the "Disengagement Plan" has given me a new outlook on Passover. Certainly former Gush Katif residents were not enslaved nevertheless some similarities can be drawn.

Consider: While we were taken out of Egyptian bondage by G-d's strong and mighty hand, in this case the hand of the Israeli government literally carried many of us out from our homes. Unlike then, we left without riches and all of our belongings. Likewise the day of Gush Katifs' evacuation left no time for bread to rise in the oven. And once out of our territory the enemy gave chase. Like then, we cried out and prayed to G-d. But G-d didn't split the sea this time. Rather the enemy followed us with mortars and kassem rockets. From our homes in Gush Katif we went to hotels, caravillas, tents, guest houses, other temporary accommodations; a proverbial desert. Like then, we wanted to return to our Land and former lives. We, like then, questioned our leadership.

Likewise some of the Passover symbolism assumes new food for thought:

A flat humble, modest bread.
The caravillas, whether 60, 90, or 120 square meters are of a uniform plain mustard color.
They are pre-fab and modest.

Leavened foods are tasty and bring joy.
Gush Katif was comprised of dynamic, vibrant, growing communities. It was a major exporter of flowers and insect-free vegetables.

A piece of roasted meat symbolizing the Passover sacrifice.
Gush Katif and parts of the Shomron a sacrificial lamb.

Bitter herbs remind us of the bitter hardship of our Egyptian bondage.
The bitterness of Arabs targeting us with rocks, bullets, mortars, road side bombs, kassem rockets. Shrapnel in bodies, loss of limbs, deaths. The impotent government response. Bombing empty buildings and fields. The government expelling us from our homes, our Land.

More bitter herbs frequently symbolized by romaine lettuce.
While the leaves aren't bitter, the stem is hard and bitter.
While Ariel Sharon is the father of the settlement movement,the "Disengagement Plan," and its execution, the aftermath is hard and bitter.

Salt water:
Our many tears.

This Passover, no matter how many bitter herbs we eat, we still won't understand…There won't be the past eager anticipation as the household changes over to a Passover atmosphere but there will be a passionate "May Jerusalem be rebuilt soon!" We find hope in the encouraging words of our sages: In Nissan Israel was redeemed and in Nissan [we] will be redeemed again!

Sara Layah Shomron and her family made their home in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif. They now reside at the temporary Nitzan caravill site.

I am actually embarrassed to be saying this but I didn't do a damn thing to help the people from Gush Katif except to talk. (I have my own problems.) But every time I go to the supermarket I cry not seeing your wonderful vegetables. And whoever is standing near me I tell them of my anger. That's all I have -- anger -- at what was done to you wonderful people. WHAT HAS THIS GOVT DONE??? In place of your wonderful communities, there are now rocket launchers!!! I am not a very religious person but I believe in my heart that the whole Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. I voted NU/NRP but their campaign was not strong enough. I am very scared as to what Olmerd (the 'd' is not a mistake - you understand French?) wants to do. Bibi is right - further expulsions will only encourage our enemies and place our major cities in the crosshairs. What the IDF is currently doing is having no effect. I believe they have to blitz the Gaza Strip and to hell whoever is in the way - and stop dropping leaflets warning people first!!! That's no way to conduct a war!!
and I didn't do enough
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