“Ani Rotzeh Lachzor Habayta”
Ir Emunah – Looking Forward; With Faith and Hope
Yerushalayim; 4 Kislev, 5766/December 5, 2005
Yesterday, I traveled to the Netivot area along with my eighteen-year-old daughter Faigy and her friend in order to offer emotional support to the children and community leaders of Ir Emunah, the relocated members of the city of Atzmona, Gush Katif.
We had seen the pictures of the trailers, the communal washrooms, and primitive facilities. So we steeled ourselves for a difficult and painful visit.
Nothing, however, could possibly have prepared us for what we saw.
We quite literally gasped as we pulled up to a roadway overlooking Ir Emunah. It was like something out of a bad dream. The entire ‘city’ is located in a dusty airport hanger, the area of a square city block. Old, decrepit trailers were lined up one after another with an assortment of belongings neatly lined up near the entrances of these trailers. It is worse than any trailer park that you have ever seen in your life.
How can they live here? How can the Israeli government allow three hundred children and their parents to live in these circumstances? Where is our support for these brave people?
Three months ago, these children were enjoying the warm summer days in the comfort of their beautiful, tree-lined streets and the security of their close-knit community. Then came the ‘disengagement’ and they were removed from the only homes they have ever known.
And now this???
It was impossible for all of us to avoid crying at this horrific scene. I asked our driver to pull off to the side of the road so that we did not visit the children in our shell-shocked state.
After we composed ourselves, we went to pay the school children a visit. Much to our incredible surprise, the children were upbeat and cheerful. Classes were in session and the children were learning in an orderly fashion with excellent lessons – despite the very challenging nature of their classrooms. I had prepared a speech that I was going to deliver to the kids at a school assembly. However, I found myself completely at a loss for words.
I went instead to play soccer in a makeshift field with the 5th grade boys. After the game, I walked them up to their classroom, and their principal informed them that I represented the children who had purchased school supplies for them.
I made the mistake of asking the kids an open-ended question – “What could do for you at this time?” My heart nearly broke when the first question came from an adorable 10-year-old. He said in Ivrit, “Ani Rotzeh Lachzor Habayta” Could I arrange so that he could return back to his home (In Atzmonah, Gush Katif)?”
I gently explained to him that this was impossible for me to do, but that I’d love to purchase sports equipment for him and his classmates. I then took out a pen and paper and asked them for their sports supplies wish list. I then did the same for a group of 7th grade girls. They were all very animated as they presented their very modest requests. A few soccer balls. Nets for their soccer goals. A basketball hoop. Modeling clay. Jump ropes. Board games.
I gave their principal $400- in cash – all I had on me at the time – and asked him to go to a store in the area that afternoon and purchase some of those items. I also gave an additional $1,600- to Miriam Adler of Efrat, the woman who introduced me to these wonderful people and she will arrange to get them their toys before Shabbos.
We left heartbroken – but incredibly inspired by the children and their parents. We went to offer support. However, we were the ones whose spirits were lifted.
Dear Readers: I simply have no words to describe the conditions these people are living with day after day. They so badly need our help. What is most incredible however, is their spirit. They are all saddened, terribly saddened, but proud, generous of spirit, and full of bitachon in Hashem (faith in G-d).
I haven’t the slightest doubt that they will be just fine in a few years. If Ir Emunah was a stock; I’d buy now.
They are planning to rebuild their greenhouses and looking to move in 4-8 months to a new location where permanent homes will be built. They are determined not to allow their community to be split and wish to face the future together. They are simply an amazing, amazing group of people.
It will be, however, simply terrible if we allow them to face their uncertain future without our complete financial and emotional support.
What can you do? Write a letter. Send money. Have your shul or school adopt a family or school. (Contact Miriam Stern if you would like to know more about families or schools who could use your assistance.) Whatever. Just do it! Today.
We must do whatever we can to assist them. For if we don’t, how in the world will be able to explain our inaction?
You can send money to the Ir Emunah community (or get further information) by mailing tax-deductible checks made to
One Israel Fund C/O Mrs. Miriam Adler
Rechov Hatziporen 8, Efrat 90435, Israel
Her contact info is 011-972-2-993-2811, email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Horowitz is the Menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey. Three months ago, his 270 talmidim ‘adopted’ the children of Atzmonah as they relocated to Ir Emunah. At that time, the children of Darchei Noam donated and collected more than $6,000. The money was wired to the leaders of the Ir Emunah community, who purchased school supplies and books for their children.
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