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The Disengagement from Gaza

August 25, 2005

Today is the 10th day since we arrived in New Jersey, which was the same day the disengagement from the Gaza strip was launched. We have been busy arranging our home, plugging in all the different cables, touring and exploring the surroundings and I have even spent some time in the office, trying to figure out what is expected from our endeavor in New Jersey.

All this time, like a silhouette, the disengagement is in the background, or should I say foreground. The day I entered the UJA building and was honored with an outstanding reception, the first settlement was evacuated. As we made our first visit to Target to get some lamps to lighten up our home, the lights were turned off at Neve Dekalim. The evening I attended a Reform Service at Temple Emeth in Teaneck, the synagogue in Netzarim was empty and will never hear prayers again. The day we were finally plugged in to cable TV, internet and telephone service, was the day the last settlers from the Shomron were carried out of their balcony on stretchers.

Many stories, photos and footage have covered the drama and tragedy of the disengagement and I would like to share one more story, the one about my good friend Aharon.

Aharon is a hi-tech engineer working for a successful firm in the north of Israel. I have known him for nearly 20 years as we have been serving in the same reserves paratrooper regiment since 1986. We have been at each others simchas, stood by each other when our children were born and were there for each other when either of us called for assistance. We served in Lebanon, patrolled along the Jordanian border, ambushed the creeks of Mount Hermon, manned the outposts of the Golan Heights and chased stone throwing children during two intifadas in Judea and Samaria.

My Regiment was recruited a few days before the disengagement to serve in the central Samaria region, while the local regular units were sent down to the Gaza strip for the disengagement. For the first time in 19 years I did not wear my uniform to join my friends and comrades for our annual duty. To overcome the distance, I called Aharon every other day to hear how things were going. I was happy to hear that morale was high and all was fine, except for the usual bickering regarding the families left at home. We have always known that when we leave for our reserve duty we leave our families and homes and the burden of running the family scene falls on our wives. This is even harder during the summer vacation when the children are home and they need to be kept occupied.

I spoke with Aharon last Friday just before Shabbat, not long after he had arrived home after being away for two weeks. “The house was in a great mess” he told me, “My five kids running around cleaning and preparing for Shabbat”. The sink was full of dishes and many large empty cartons scattered everywhere. “Where is Ima” He asked his kids, “she has been cooking meals all morning for the families from the Gaza Strip who have been transferred to the nearby hotel for Shabbat” they told him….

I was amazed. Here is an Israeli mother, whose husband has been called for military service during summer vacation, she is juggling between her 5 children , her job and her home and yet she still finds the time and energy to help these unfortunate families, who are starting again from scratch, and are in need for all the support they can get.

Because of women like Gahlilit Weiss, I am confident that Israel has the strength to overcome the current crisis it is confronting. The combination of the strength and compassion demonstrated by the Weiss family is a mirror of the values of Israeli society which enabled us to succeed these last two weeks with an impossible mixture of emotion and determination.

Yashar Koach Weiss family, Yashar Koach Medinat Israel. I am proud of you all.

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