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Sukkot Joy for Expelled Residents and Guests

The former residents of Gush Katif - for the vast majority of whom the Sukkah booth is just another temporary home - continue to organize and star in joyous holiday events.

By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/26/2005, 6:22 PM / Last Update: 10/23/2005, 11:20 AM

This evening, known as the night of Hoshana Rabba, a joyous holiday celebration will be held in the Jerusalem Conference Center (Binyanei HaUmah), with the participation of hundreds of Gush Katif expellees and leading rabbis. Throughout the night, in keeping with Hoshana Rabba tradition, Torah lectures will be given. Among the teachers will be former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira and Rabbis Dov Lior, Zalman Baruch Melamed, Yitzchak Ginzberg, Elyakim Levanon, and others.

Top-level Hassidic musicians such as Aharon Razel, Yosef Kardoner, Chaim David Cerachik, and the cantor Meir Dorfman will peform beforehand and in-between.

The week-long Sukkot holiday features nightly events of Torah and song, known as "Simchat Beit HaShoevah" celebrations. The celebrations commemorate the joyous water ceremonies in the Holy Temple, about which the Mishna teaches, "He who did not experience the joy of the Simchat Beit HaShoevah in the Temple, never saw true joy in his life."

The organizers of tonight's event, from the "Spirit and Strength" movement, write:
"We will gather together for festival joy - all of us who love the Nation and Land and who are loyal to Torah authority, with the heroic expellees of Gush Katif and the Shomron, for an evening of uplifting of spirit, of amassing strength, and of renewal, to reinforce our grasp and stronghold on our Holy Land, as we stand tall with confidence in our path."

One hundred kilometers to the south, outside the Negev city of Netivot, the expelled residents of Atzmonah living in the Ir HaEmunah (City of Faith) encampment, will hold their own Simchat Beit HaShoevah event. The hosts are expecting thousands of people to join them. An open-air event for children is being held there throughout the day, with musical festivities beginning at 5 PM. A series of all-night Torah classes will begin at 9 PM.

Joining the festivities will be homeless former residents of Moshav Katif, many of whom have begun to move into Faith City. Since the expulsion over two months ago, they have lived at the Ulpanah Girls High School in Kfar Pines near Hadera, but the government has found no more permanent communal solution for them. Though the high school and its students have been overwhelmingly generous and hospitable, allowing the families to live in the dormitory while the high school seniors live outside in tents, the Katifites do not wish to further overstay their welcome, and have no choice but to move to the encampment.

Other Hoshana Rabba events will be held in Jerusalem this evening at the Netiv Meir Yeshiva High School in Bayit Vegan, and at the OU Israel Center.

In Pnei Kedem, south of Gush Etzion and near Meitzad, the 2nd Annual Kite Festival
will be held today from 10 AM to 5 PM. Features include: Kite building and a grand flying expo, creative workshops, jumping castles, carnival games, pony rides, bongo lessons, pita baking, crafts fair, reflexology, massage, workshops for adults and children, a variey of food stands with ample Sukkot, live entertainment and music, and a kite contest with prizes. Free transporation is available from the Gush Etzion junction.