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Av: Remember, never forget, Gush Katif - Five years ago

By David Wilder
7/11/2010, 12:00 AM

Tonight begins the new month of Av, and with it, the next nine days of mourning, remembering the destruction of the two Temples, the Beit HaMikdash.

It's not easy to mourn, to feel deep sadness for events that occured thousands of years ago. We never experienced the sanctity of the Mikdash, and, as a result, really don't know what we're missing. That makes mourning it difficult.

However, our G-d has ways of helping us, whatever the situation might be. We might not be able to comprehend the magnitude of that loss, so HaShem gave us other events, not necessarily as great as the burning of the Mikdash, but serious enough to leave us with, at least, a minor impression of what really happened then.

And so it was, that five years ago, we experienced a Churban, a destruction, an expulsion. Not implemented by the Greeks or the Romans or any foreign power; rather by our own people; an act voted on in the Knesset, initiated by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, approved by the national Supreme Court and carried out by Jewish soldiers and police.

This afternoon, during an interview, I said that the Jewish people waited 2,000 years to again have an army, Jews in uniform, able to defend themselves in the face of all danger. Yes, for Jewish warriors we waited, but not for those Jewish warriors to turn against their own people.

This churban, this tragedy, may not have been of the same magnitude of the destruction of the Temples, but the impression that it made, the amputation of a limb of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, an operation performed without any anesthetic, has left an open, bleeding, festering wound, which leaves us with, perhaps, a mild idea of what happened to the Jewish people two thousand years ago.

It assists us to mourn, as we will for the next nine day, culminating with the Tisha b'Av fast.

Just as we remember the destruction that happened thousands of years ago, so too must we remember that which occurred five years ago. I cry when I see photos of the destruction, but my heart breaks when I view Gush Katif, the Garden of Eden of the south, as it was, before the destruction.

The following seven minute movie is composed of 160 pictures that I photographed in Gush Katif, mostly of ordinary, everyday life, excepting the last few.

I wish I could say enjoy, but I'm sorry, I cannot. But I can hope and pray that we will learn from our errors, that we will never, ever, with our own two hands, perpetrate such a crime as was committed five years ago, and that our mourning should be transformed into joyous celebrations, as we witness the rebuilding of Gush Katif, Jerusalem, the Mikdash and all Eretz Yisrael, as fast as is humanly possible.