Today was a reading day for me.
Sometimes, I get to spend a day in bed getting out of it for a glass of water moving about the apartment like a zombie, a pain here, a pain there. No big deal if someone is used to it like I am. Thank Gd, it’s not often and by now I know that I need to allow myself this day or two. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I’ll be fine.
What do I do on a day like this? Read, of course! I have many books at home still waiting for their hour. Before Rosh ha Shana and during it I was reading quite a bit on the Holiday, the aseret yemei teshuva and Yom Kippur, so today I had to allow myself a lighter reading. Or, so I thought, when I picked up a novel. I rarely read novels these days, and this one made it into my library just by the virtue of its title “The Settler”.
There was a moment of hesitation when I had to think if the author was among those who use the word as a derogatory term for people who are living on the ancient Jewish land beautifying it and protecting the whole Israel by their just being there. The ones that the late “bulldozer”, Arik Sharon once called heroes, and later ordered to be dragged out of their homes. I was worried. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Today, more than 10 years after the expulsion, we can all say what a horrible tragedy that was, what a mistake, what a farce of justice system issuing a law that totally contradicted any historical logic. We can say all that. But can the people whose lives were ruined, or worse, those who were killed later as a direct result of the “disengagement” say anything? Too late.
I have visited a tiny museum of the “disengagement” in Jerusalem, ironically located just off the street bearing my last name.
The place is built and is sustained totally on donations from visitors and supporters, none of the government money to this day.
I have read some materials on the event, but never a novel – brutal in its naked feelings of a young girl whose whole life is crumbling under her feet as the sand that is about to eat all the fruits of her family’s labor.
And then I thought back to the Holidays we are celebrating now – Rosh haShana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot – all of these days are not only an opportunity for an individual to connect to Gd each in their own way, but are the chance for all of k’lal Yisrael to stand together as one.
The young heroine of the story is able to breach the walls of misunderstanding not without great sacrifices, but she sees hope for her people at the end. Or, is it a dream?
Maybe the reason for my day in bed was the need for me to understand that we are all as one. We are, indeed, responsible for each other. Those of us who pray and those of us who do not. My plea for myself and my people is to try and look each other in the eye not only on Yom Kippur, but the whole year, and try to listen to each other’s hearts. And then, I hope, there will be no need to explain why “the Jews don’t expel Jews” anymore.