It Seems Like Only Yesterday

Forever etched into the annals of Jewish history.

Isaac Kohn,

OpEds
Arutz 7
In tribute to one of the most astonishing, sincere, heart-rending and soul-splitting prayers - Tefilah L'Ani - ever raised to HaShem. The prayer that will forever be remembered as Tefilat HaBanot (The Prayer of the Girls) - N'vei Dekalim.

I've watched it dozens of times over the last three years. And now, I watched once again, as the air crackles with the vibrations of the quickly approaching Days of Awe. Summer is just about over, children are about to go back to begin a new school year, vacations are winding down and back-to-work is the routine. It seems like only yesterday that the year began.

And so, today I watched it again. The video played and I watched the unabashed tears rolling down their cheeks. I watched the heart-rending wailing and the unforgettable moment when many in the crowd ripped their clothes in bereavement. My eyes clouded too as I watched the mourning. "Boruch Dayan HaEmet," cried the gathered multitudes. And then, once more, I cried along. Because, once more, it seems like only yesterday.

The day is fast approaching. The seventh of Elul is just around the corner; an infamous and sad day forever etched into the annals of Jewish history, though quickly forgotten and erased from the collective consciousness of those who perpetrated and carried out the horrendous and unforgivable crime. It seems like only yesterday.

N'vei Dekalim. The beautiful, vibrant Jewish city. The synagogue is filled to the rafters with young women, little girls, teenagers, young mothers and the elderly. Not an inch of empty space. They were all there, not one girl was missing, lest her prayers will be the ones to reach the heavens. In bitterness they sang and they prayed and they cried. Oh, how they cried and beseeched and begged, and they cried even more. It seems like only yesterday.

They swayed in fervent ecstasy, crying hot tears of despair. They beseeched and they implored and they requested and they pleaded. "G-d," they asked, "show us the power of your hand. Destroy the evil decree." Some shut their eyes tightly while others raised them upwards to Heaven. It seems like only yesterday.

The prayers and the singing ended. In unison, the girls raised their voices, declaring His glory and 'crowning' G-d once again and forever, while outside the gendarmes-police-soldiers gathered their expulsion forces. Avinu Malkeinu, the echo shook the walls. It seems like only yesterday.

The video played on as the saddest song I ever heard reverberated and bounced against the silent walls. In a minute or so the doors will burst open and the soldiers will pour in.

"Please G-d. Listen to our prayers."

The air was thick with the electric anticipation. Streaks of tears ran down their faces, their eyes shut tight as if by doing so they will not see or hear the soldiers coming. They wished away the decree. It seems like only yesterday.

"Where are they today?" my thoughts ran forward. What has become of the gentle, yet so intense, young faces? Abandoned. Abandoned by those same who tore their lives asunder and cast them to ill winds of neglect. Lives shattered, emotions frayed and bodies bent forever under the burden of listlessness and despair. It seems like only yesterday.

And then the soldiers came, thousands strong, bent on expelling Jews from their lands. And they did. Children were carried out, others dragged by force. The soldiers sworn to protect Jews in their Jewish land. How could they? But they did! Homes devastated, farms and orchards destroyed. For what? It seems like only yesterday.

For what? How silly a question. Oh, for peace, they said. Peace shall reign supreme over the ruins of Gush Katif. Peace will break out, dancing on the ruins of Kfar Darom, Ganei Tal and N'vei Dekalim. Ten thousand Jews brought on the altar of false sacrifice, surrendered and expelled not for peace, but so as to satisfy the false illusions of
"Please G-d. Listen to our prayers."
traitors. You'll see, they promised, no more guns, no more terror and no more blood. But he lied to us, he lied to them. And worst of all, he lied to himself. It seems like only yesterday.

He is gone, felled by the hand of G-d. But those rivers of warm tears are still flowing. How sad that he did not witness the full brunt of the destruction he brought on his own sisters and brothers. No, not the destruction of the bricks and mortar of felled homes, dried out flowers and torn out trees. Nor sun-burned fields that now grow nothing but weeds. No, not the sands that are slowly creeping back to cover once sprawling green lawns and farms, or the graffiti-splattered walls of the synagogues in Nezarim, Atzmona or Alei Sinai.

How sad it is that he is not here to witness the emotional, physical and mental destruction which befell ten thousand, once-vibrant, productive, happy and joyful people. To have witnessed the thievery and robbery committed by him for the sake of his own skin. It is all gone, but the words that still resound loud and clear. How painful indeed, how sad indeed.

So I watched the clip again, and again. Tefilah L'Ani. The girls cried. And I cried too. For it seems like only yesterday.




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