Role Models

There are no words to describe my admiration and respect and awe for these Blessed Jewish Men, Jewish Women, and Jewish Children, whom I can only hope that I could emulate – one day – and be as strong, motivated, driven, committed, amorous, indignant, and righteous as they are:’

Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent, wrote:

The Nir Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba will soon move to Sa-Nur, one of the four northern West Bank settlements that are slated to be evacuated under the disengagement plan, the heads of the yeshiva told community leaders Thursday.

Rabbis Eliezer Waldman and Dov Lior explained that their goal is to strengthen the settlement. Since the settlement currently has no empty houses, a large tent will apparently be erected to house the yeshiva students and their families.

Sa-Nur, once an artists’ community, was completely abandoned during the early years of the intifada. It was resettled by a group of Chabad Hasidim, but they, too, eventually left. About 18 months ago, it was resettled again by a group of religious Zionist families, and today, it has 23 such families. Twelve of the original families have
also returned.

Religious families have also been moving into the nearby secular settlement of Homesh, also slated for evacuation; Homesh now has 16 religious families. But Ganim and Kadim, the other two northern West Bank settlements due to be evacuated, have refused offers of a similar influx.

People are also continuing to move into the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza: In recent months, some 400 people have moved to the Gaza Strip.

Also, Mati Wagner, of THE JERUSALEM POST wrote:

“We make these sacrifices to awaken God’s mercy,” says Meir Raz, a father of 10 who moved his family to Netzarim this month. “We demonstrate to Him our love for Eretz Yisrael and hope for a miracle.”

Raz, who left an eight-room house in Beit El and moved to a two-room prefab to join settlers in Gaza, believes one’s actions in this world impact on the heavenly spheres.

“Someone asked me today if I didn’t think that after the cabinet decision [to implement evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza] our fate was sealed,” says Raz, 51, who until recently did voluntary reserve army duty although he was exempt.

“I believe in heavenly intervention, like in the Purim story. Even after the lot was cast and it looked as though King Ahasuerus and Haman would wipe out the Jewish people, the decree ‘was turned to the contrary.'”

For Raz, vice president of Tefillin Bet El, a retail chain that produces and sells phylacteries and their accessories, business endeavors are inextricably tied to and serve as a leverage for the manifestation of spiritual aspirations. He says that in the months leading up to his decision to move to Netzarim he had a burning need to do something to try to stop the disengagement plan.

“Eventually I settled upon the idea to set up a new Netzarim outlet of Tefillin Beit El,” says Raz.

Raz sat down with Beit El Tefillin’s CEO Rabbi Yishai Babad, who is also secretary of the Yesha Council of Rabbis, and worked out the details.

“When I presented the idea to my family there was complete consensus that we have to do it.” Raz, together with wife Efrat and seven of his 10 children – Avraham, seven, Tamar, nine, Ayelet, 13, Hadassah, 14, Odaya, 17, Re’ut, 19, and Moriah, 20 – made the move. The Raz family was joined by the family of one of his employees and another two are planning to come as well.

Since they moved to Netzarim at the beginning of the month seven mortars have fallen. Raz says the younger children run panicked to the security room when the mortars fall.

“But I think it is a tremendous lesson for the children. It teaches them the quality of selflessness for the sake of Eretz Yisrael.

“From a materialistic perspective it is also an important message for them that one can be happy without all the physical comforts.”

Security is tight at the Netzarim roadblock that guards the entrance. To limit casualties to a minimum, cars that are not bulletproof are not allowed to transport passengers. Only the driver, wearing a flak jacket and a helmet, is allowed in by car. Passengers are transported by armored vehicles that travel at set hours. Flak jackets and helmets must also be worn when walking on the periphery of the settlement.

“This past Friday afternoon, we missed the armored vehicle transport,” recalls Raz. “If I had waited for the next one we would have been forced to desecrate Shabbat. So I drove in with a few of my children in the car.”

Raz says that moving to Netzarim is like “living on a different planet.”

“You develop a deeper love for Eretz Yisrael by being around the people of Netzarim. It heightens your consciousness that this land is not just a refuge for persecuted Jews. It is a Holy Land with immanent sanctity.”

Copyright 1995-2005 The Jerusalem Post

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