Throwing a Party in Netzer - Mazel Tov!

One day, please G-d, there will be a thriving Jewish community at Netzer. Remember that this is how it all starts in the hills of Judea...

Rochel Sylvetsky,

OpEds Rochel Sylvetsky
Rochel Sylvetsky
]Yonatan Zindel Flash 90

This is turning out to be a cold and rainy winter in Israel, thank G-d. 

Somehow, years of growing up in the New York cold didn't freeze my insides the way the raw winds of the Judean hills do. And last Friday, there were especially icy,  blustery winds and much mud in the nascent olive groves and fields of soon-to-be-built Netzer in Gush Etzion.

On the other hand, parties in New York also didn't warm the insides of my heart and spirit the way a "sheva brachot"  - the traditional festivities thrown daily for a week after a Jewish wedding, filled with Torah, song, dance, and a repeat of the seven wedding blessings - did this past Friday in that very same Netzer, where my husband and I spent the morning.

The newlyweds united two families of Israeli idealism in the rebuilding of Judea and Samaria, Tzvi and Yehudit Katsover of Kiryat Arba, of which Tzvi is former mayor, and Yehudit is a head of Women in Green - and the Messika's, whose family head, Gershon Messika is the intrepid and outspoken head of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Authority. The hostess was the indefatigable Nadia Matar, who heads Women in Green with Yehudit Katsover.

Netzer Gershon Ellinson

In the early hours of the morning, the young couple made its way to Netzer from Elon Moreh in Samaria where they are living temporarily. As we did, they turned off the main highway leading to Hevron, route 60, to a potholed, winding unpaved track right after the exit to the expanding town of Elazar and went on for about a kilometer,  with Efrat to the east and Alon Shvut to the west.  They, too, must have noticed the signs stuck in the ground attesting to which groups of young Israelis planted the rows of vines and olive trees adjacent to the road.

Netzer Gershon Ellinson

A makeshift tent was erected in the open and windblown area, and attached to several cars belonging to guests.  I noticed with some trepidation that above it was a pylon-supported high tension wire, but the real electricity was generated by the joyful couple and the participants - and the warmth  came from the atmosphere and the delicious hot vegetable soup spooned into paper hotcups for all. 

After a fascinating shiur by Rabbanit Malka Piotrokowsky, a table with refreshments was opened and the "sheva brachot" program began. Rabbi Gideon Perl, regional Rabbi of Gush Etzion and Rabbi of Netzer, blessed the young couple to merit building their permanent home in Netzer in the near future. The event ended with dancing and singing led, on the guitar, by Steve Rodan, active in the ongoing reclamation of Netzer.

Tens of participants from Jerusalem and from all over Judea bundled up and came to share in the simcha and to strengthen the Jewish presence at the place.  

Netzer 1 Gershon Ellinson

The Arabs nearby watched in wonder- how much happiness, how much strength.

The IDF stood on guard and the Civil Administration was there too, probably to make sure that the participants would not use the event "for additional activities". Women for Israel's Tomorrow, or Women in Green as it is popularly called because of its green-hat uniform,  fights for the right of Jews to build and plant  on state lands in the Biblical hills of Judea. One of the places where Women in Green plant trees to safeguard Israel's rights from encroachment, by adjacent Arabs,  is Netzer; in the heart of Gush Etzion, right between Elazar and Alon Shvut. Some saplings are not yet connected to irrigation, but the rainy winter is giving them sustenance.

And the Jewish People gains sustenance from the new couple for whom we sang, two young people who grew up in Hevron  the City of the Patriarchs and in the Shomron, celebrated their huppa [wedding ceremony] in the Cave of the Patriarchs, Mearat HaMachpela, sheva brachot in Jerusalem and Netzer, aliya [groom's call up] to the Tora at Shabbat in Chazon David and last sheva brachot in the northernmost Jordan Valley town of Bet Shean .

Netzer Gershon Ellinson

 May we, please G-d, continue to celebrate such wonderful events in the hills of Judea and Samaria!

(Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover contributed to this article)