Sunday, September 17, 2006


And There Was Light

" … And There Was Light"

By Sara Layah Shomron
24 Elul 5766 (September 17, 2006)

A Bar Mitzvah is full of special meaning for the boy, his family, his friends, and his community. For the child reared in our beloved Gush Katif it takes on even more significance. He has lost his beautiful Gush Katif; his childhood home now razed and reduced to rubble, his schooling disrupted, his friends mercilessly scattered, his salvageable belongings stored away in boxes or shipping container or storage facility, and his parents most likely unemployed in direct consequence of the expulsion. Even though he and many many people within Israel and outside our Land passionately and fervently prayed and demonstrated against the evil destruction last summer, this child willingly and eagerly accepts upon himself all responsibilities and obligations incumbent upon him as he enters his 13th year.

My 5th child and youngest son Meir has just marked his Bar Mitzvah. It was a delicate and sensitive issue; he told me he wanted it to be like his older two brothers' Bar Mitzvahs. Thankfully he was able to receive Torah reading tutelage from the same instructor as his brothers. As for the rest, we neither have our lovely Neve Dekalim garden in which to invite and entertain friends as we did for my eldest son nor do we have access to a bomb shelter as used for my middle son on account of possible rain. (Contrary to the law that all new housing projects must have security rooms, the "caravilla" relocation sites lack security rooms and bomb shelters). I tried to comfort Meir by saying that his celebration would be uniquely his as were his brothers' celebrations theirs.

We decided on a Thursday Torah reading and class celebration at his re-established Naot Katif elementary school and a Sabbath reading at the Neve Dekalim-Nitzan Mercazi synagogue. His classmates joyously decorated the school synagogue with bright colored balloons the day before. Meir, donning his tallit for the first time, prayed with the school congregation and read from the Torah. My husband joined this all male youth congregation while I listened seated behind the doorway. Meir sang his heartfelt prayers so beautifully and clearly. The boys burst out into song and excitement; Meir's inclusion into the congregation complete now that he's Bar Mitzvah.

Afterwards we celebrated with his 15 classmates; a remnant from his Gush Katif elementary school. The new school principal, his teacher, and my husband all spoke briefly. Meir had prepared and read a speech about his Torah portion. The classmates then broke out in impromptu song as we ate the tasty food I had prepared. A sinfully delicious frosted chocolate cake with the message "Mazel Tov Meir! 13" made by my neighbor followed. And then Meir was lifted up on a chair as is the Israeli birthday custom. There was plenty of food left over so the boys set out to share it with the staff and other classes. It was special, intimate, and oh so very meaningful for all.

This past Sabbath morning Meir read his double Torah portion Nitzavim Vayelech and Haftorah. My son's heartfelt voice rang out marvelously and it is this melody and these words which have echoed down throughout the centuries. Rabbi Kaminetski presented the Bar Mitzvah boy with a set of Mishna Brurah just as he had done many many times in our beloved and now destroyed Neve Dekalim. But this set, he announced with care, was the last Gush Katif set.

Meir, your name means "enlightens." May you continue to go from strength to strength bringing light into our world!

Sara Layah Shomron is a Gush Katif expellee living at the Nitzan Caravilla site

MAZAL TOV, MAZAL TOV, to all of the family!!
Beautiful! May you enjoy only smachot, and may your home and community be speedily and completely rebuilt! In the meantime, a Happy and Healthy New Year to all!



Congratulations to Meir on his Bar Mitzvah. We hope you all are well with many more simchas to come.

Shana Tova,

Sarah, this is beautiful. I shared it with some students as we have just finished reading the novel, "The Chosen" ... your truth gives richness to the stark reality.

I'm passing your comments to Sarah

thank you
Just wondering if you are the family I reember from Phoenix, AZ.
Hey there Northernmostjew! It's good to hear from you. Ann and Gary would like to hear from you too. How do we go about a private conversation?
sara layah - You can e-mail me at Looking forward to hearing from you! Amy
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