My neighbor Ina Vinyarsky was honored today for her service to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Starting with Tekoa that she founded in Sukkot 1977, Vinyarsky has been involved in the startup and early stages of no less than 41 communities that all appeared on a banner at the event.
Ina brought together three circles in her life. The drive to restore the Jewish presence to Judea and Samaria, the involvement of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and her most recent venture is collaboration with the veteran nationalist leader Geula Cohen in popularizing the majestic (and ignored by left leaning governments) Hebrew poet Uri Zvi Grinberg. Appropriately representatives of all three fields were on hand to honor Ina for her lifetime of achievement in Shdema.
Shdema was a military camp at the edge of Beit Sahour that was repeatedly attacked during the Oslo war (aka the second intifada). It lies midway between the communities in the area of Herodion and Jerusalem. After a new road was built to service these communities cutting travel time to Jerusalem by half, Shdema dominates the new road.
Therefore, when reports began to circulate about a confidence building measure to the Palestinians involving the surrender of Shdema, Ina joined forces with Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover of Women in Green to thwart this design.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head David Perl claims that progress is being made on a permanent Jewish presence in Shdema.
Praising Ina Vinyarsky from the Russian aliya were Information and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman and others recalled their first encounter with Ina and her promises back in 1979 about a flourishing group of Jewish communities and the skepticism that these promises once aroused. Given today's reality Ina has been more than vindicated.
Former MK Zvi Hendel, once council head of Gush Katif, and Zviki Bar Hai Chairman of the South Hebron Hills communities, recalled Ina's exploits when in good times and bad she traveled isolated roads in her vehicle at all hours of the night to visit the communities that were under her supervision. Geula Cohen praised Ina's work at the Uri Zvi Grinberg house.
When it was finally her turn to speak, Ina claimed it was good to see the throngs of people who had gotten together at Shdema. Ze Shelanu – It's ours, she said simply and sat down. Ina was never one for long speeches.