From Golden Stalks to Golden Grains and Back Again

It's been a very long journey.

Shifra Shomron,

Shifra Shomron
Shifra Shomron
I stood outside the Nitzan caravilla site (trailer park) on a warm summer afternoon and watched the golden hay being baled. The heavy machinery ground loudly and spat out large, square sweet-smelling bales. And as I stood silently and stared, I was once again a
Every paradise has to have its snake, and Gush Katif was invaded.
small five-year-old child with big brown eyes and short, curly brown hair, clutching my mother's hand tightly on a Shabbat afternoon in Chandler, Arizona.
After the Shabbat morning meal, my family would always go on a walk to Desert Breeze Park. And on the way there, when the season was right, we would stop and watch the hay being baled. My father would watch with a grin and a sparkle in his green eyes, explaining the hay baling process to us. My mother would be cheerfully amused, and my siblings and I would stare with wide-eyed wonder.

But time passed and, with G-d's help, my family made Aliyah to N'vei Dekalim, Israel. Agriculture was different there. Vast, rolling gray hothouses took the place of open fields. Bug-free vegetables and beautiful flowers took the place of stalks of hay. Golden sand dunes and small communities replaced the urban sprawl. And only the summer heat remained the same. I wasn't sorry for the change, nor was my family. We grew and blossomed in lovely Gush Katif.

But more time passed. Every paradise has to have its snake, and Gush Katif was invaded by several nasty vipers. The second Intifada burst into being - road-side shootings, road side bombs, attempted Arab infiltrations, mortars, kassam rockets, Jews injured, Jews killed.... Budding Jewish lives were cruelly snipped. And we learned to live under the shadow of Arab terror. We were hurting, and our wounds were raw and open and bleeding. But we persevered; we smiled bravely and dug our roots deeper into the sandy soil.

Then, the second viper showed its fangs. The Arabs were plucking our flowers when our Jewish government announced its desire to uproot us. And the smile froze on our faces and our hearts were heavy. We set out to struggle. It was a long struggle and it was a brave struggle. There were demonstrations, a human chain, a Likud referendum in our favor, orange streamers, prayer vigils, street blocking, face-to-face campaigning, but the government won. And the Jewish nation lost. We were quickly uprooted, our houses were swiftly destroyed, and the Arabs smiled maliciously and paraded victoriously among the ruins.

Then, the people of Gush Katif were forced into two years of wandering. And they traveled to Jerusalem. And from Jerusalem they dispersed to a great many locations, for their numbers were vast and the government did not know where to place them. And from Jerusalem they wandered as far south as Be'er Sheva and as far north as the hills of the Galilee and the Golan. And eventually they settled in numerous, temporary caravilla sites. And they were sad, and they were weary, and they cried unto the L-ord.
And they were sad, and they were weary, and they cried unto the L-ord.
Slowly, slowly, they gathered strength. They recalled the five years of hardship they had borne in Gush Katif, and they remembered their fallen, and they remembered the joyful faces of their foes. And they refused to be beaten. If one listens, one can once again hear the determination in their voices and their visions for the future.

So, I stand and stare at the hay being baled outside the Nitzan caravilla site. It's a lovely day; the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the golden hay is being gathered. And, for a bit, I allow myself the luxury of taking a trip along memory lane. My brown eyes smile and my hair blows in the wind. Despite the pre-fab trailer-homes, and despite the high unemployment, and despite the corrupt government and the national security problems, I laugh, enjoying a golden moment.
It's been a very long journey from the hay fields of Arizona to the hay fields of Nitzan, and we've been temporarily banned from paradise, but this little girl has grown up - with strong roots in the past and a fervent hope for the future.

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