We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the tragedy of the Disengagement and the exile of the residents of Gush Katif from their beautiful communities. Gush Katif became a political movement and it's easy to forget that we are dealing with idealistic families who had settled the Gush and were uprooted along with the acacia trees. The battle was lost and has faded into the bittersweet and turbulent history of the fledgling Jewish State in its ancient land.
Shifra Shomron has written a book, part personal diary, part historical third person narrative, about the transformation of Gush Katif from a Garden of Eden existence to a defensive outpost and finally to the site of the Jewish nation's newest exile. Peppered with Biblical quotes, it reminds us that being exiled from our land is not a new story.
Shifra describes the last years in Gush Katif for the Yefet family, Yoram, Miri, Efrat and Yair and their dogs tending their garden, wandering on the sand dunes, a religious family who are a microcosm of the Gush and the archetypal wandering Jews.
There is no one who could read this book and not be moved. It is an important book as a testimony to the short-lived life of the settlers' dream and the not yet fulfilled vision of the final redemption. It is the chronicle of a teenage girl who had grown up in the idyllic world of the Gush who must leave it and her childhood behind both literally and figuratively. It is lyrically, poetically and innocently recounted.
The Gush has returned to the dunes from which it sprang up but, as the parents of our heroine remind us, we will one day, God willing return to build upon the rubble of Neve Dekalim, the palm tree oasis which was one of the flourishing plantations of promised redemption.
On this, the anniversary of the fall of Neve Dekalim, Katif, and the other communities that are no more, we must remember the many residents who have not yet managed to put down new roots, the yet unemployed, the youth still struggling with shattered dreams and disillusionment, the need to petition the Israeli Government for solutions and to remind them that the sacrifice of these people did not bring the hoped-for peace and the need for all of us to still pray for the final redemption.
Shifra Shomron is now studying to be an English and Bible teacher at an accelerated college program in Israel. Her parents have still been unable to find work. The family lives in one of the caravillas set up by the government before the expulsion. The book is available through at Amazon.com, and select bookstores in Jerusalem and Barnes and Noble in the USA.