As the Jewish village of El Matan faces the looming court-ordered demolition of its community Synagogue, a group of Jewish students have taken it upon themselves to assist the villagers prior to the Sukkot festival. The Zionist Freedom Alliance’s Israeli branch, L’Herut Tzion, organized a volunteer program for overseas students to work and live in El Matan in order to prepare the community for the thousands of visitors expected to arrive in expressions of solidarity during Sukkot.
El Matan is a small Jewish village in northern Samaria, situated on a mountain straddling the border between the ancient Hebrew tribal territories of Menashe and Ephraim. The Synagogue, which was built with private funds in a zone approved by the state for construction, was denied final authorization by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Residents of El Matan claim that Barak refused to authorize the synagogue, considered a basic need in every community, because he was trying at the time to find favor in the eyes of disgruntled parliamentarians from his Labor faction who opposed his participation in a Likud-led government. Not wanting to be left without a place of worship and assembly, the villagers of El Matan decided to move forward without Barak’s signature and built a small community Synagogue.
L’Herut Tzion regularly sends volunteers from overseas to Jewish hilltop communities in Samaria. During a previous program run by the organization, students participated in building the El Matan Synagogue. A spokesperson for the group told Israel National News that another volunteer program, also to El Matan, is scheduled to begin immediately following the holidays.