Disengagement Diaries

Losing Their Homes, and Their Religion

It can be argued that the evacuation from Gaza hit the younger generation particularly hard, making them particularly susceptible to rebellion against any type of authority, religious included

Day 12: The End (Until We Return)

I refused to go on the bus after being forced out of the Neve Dekalim synagogue. I wasn’t about to leave Gush Katif like cattle. I demanded that I at least go to the bathroom, which was fair enough, since the army kept feeding us water in the synagogue — like patting us on the …

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Day 11: Ariel Sharon vs. God

Sharon beat God. I was there.  I saw it, with my own eyes.  I saw the ark of the Torah and the tablets of the Ten Commandments above it.  I was in there when those beautiful, earnest, loving young women were praying and singing with all there hearts, with hope still burning inside them.  I …

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Day 9: Getting Engaged

Settlement residents and infiltrators are ambushing security forces — ambushing their hearts and their minds. I am on the frontlines of the Jewish soul. Border police created a new human border at the entrance of each settlement, and here at Neve Dekalim, and residents and infiltrators are ambushing them — ambushing their hearts and their …

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Day 8: Sex on the Beach

I totally lost it on Friday. I was sitting under a beach hut with some residents who were lamenting that this was their “last Shabbat” at the Gush. The young, robust man who had snuck me in was gulping whiskey, tears in his eyes, his face red. I stepped into the ocean with my blue …

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Day 7: The Limits of Friendship

I cried for the first time today since I’ve been here. It wasn’t because I imagined cute little Israeli kids being torn from their parents; it wasn’t because women in wheelchairs will be begging officers to leave them alone; it wasn’t because synagogues and Jewish graves will be plundered; it wasn’t because I was warned …

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Day 6: Yellow Yankees

Gush Katif had a pleasant surprise today, like a bucket of sunshine. Men and women wearing bright yellow shirts with black letters “Americans Against the Expulsion of Jews” somehow managed to get in. The ingathering of exiles has begun. There were about 25 of them from different states: New York, New Jersey, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, …

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Day 5: Frequent Flyers

Many flyers were handed out today. One advertised a handholding chain from Gaza to Jerusalem. Another advertised a communal prayer in the evening. Another flyer informed residents of the siege that would befall the settlements next week, when transportation between settlements will be forbidden and power and water possibly cut. The community called on us …

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Day 4: CNN & Dew Drop In

Yesterday, for the first time in nine years, I davened (recited) Shakharit, the traditional morning prayer. It wasn’t the result of any religious revelation or desire to return to Orthodoxy. Some student supporters had simply decided to go to shul, and I joined them. I recited the summer prayer that God let the dew fall. …

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Day 3: The Nine Days

A new week in the Gush — and I have a feeling it will bear a different tone than last week, which was filled with euphoria. This week will be filled with more solemnity, as we are counting the nine days leading to the destruction of the second temple — and the planned destruction of …

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Day 2: Shabbat in the Gush II

The last time I spent Shabbat in Gush Katif, the topic of Disengagement was a self-imposed taboo; this time it was all the families could talk about. Mothers, fathers, children were all venting their anger, upset, humiliation, suffering, pain, and most of all — incredulity — incredulity that the Israeli government could be so cruel …

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The End of Sanity

Published originally in the Jewish Journal, this piece describes my first visit to Gush Katif, a visit that I didn’t know at the time would change my life–forever.

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