The small town of Adurah, just west of Kiryat Arba and Hevron, was treated to an evening of "Torah joy" last week with the introduction of a new Torah scroll. The event, attended by over 200 people, was sponsored and engineered by the Becker family of Adurah, and the Sefer Torah Recycling Network.
The Gush Katif Connection
Viewed through the eyes of one relatively new resident - Deganit Ohayon, thrown out of Gush Katif nearly two years ago - the celebration took on a very special hue. "When we - my husband Tzion, our four small children and I - were thrown out of our home [in August 2005]," Deganit told Arutz-7, "we realized that the Nation of Israel was in trouble, and that there was a lot of work to do. We felt that we couldn't just wash our hands of everything, and sit around and wait for the government to rebuild our homes like it promised. We wanted to continue the face-to-face, door-to-door enterprise that we started back in Gush Katif - meeting people, showing them true examples of Torah living and commitment to the Land of Israel and spiritual values, and the like - and so we came to Adurah."
"Adurah is a mostly secular town of about 40 families," said Deganit, who had lived in Gush Katif practically since she was born. "It started to empty out after the two terrorist attacks [see below -ed.]. But we and about ten other families arrived, and we feel that things are beginning to pick up. There seems to be a new spirit here, both in terms of remaining here and religiously."
Terror Strikes Twice
Five years ago, five residents of the outlying town were murdered in two separate Arab terrorist attacks. In March 2002, Avi Hazan was one of 11 people felled by a suicide terrorist in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem following his nephew's Bar Mitzvah celebration. Avi left behind his wife and two children. Less than two months later, two Arab terrorists disguised as IDF soldiers infiltrated Adurah and began firing automatic weapons into homes. The dead included five-year-old Danielle Shefi, shot to death in her bed by those she thought to be "her" soldiers; Katya Greenberg, 45; and local emergency response team members Yaakov Katz, 50, and Arik Becker, 23.
Moshe Burt of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network recalls: "Two years ago, I was contacted by a friend involved with one of the terror-victims organizations. He told me that Moshe and Ada Becker, the parents of Arik, one of the victims, was looking to acquire a Sefer Torah [Torah scroll] to be dedicated in memory of the five Adurah residents who had been killed in the terror attacks." The Beckers made a number of changes some time after their son was murdered: They adopted a religious way of life, and started an organization whose mission it is to help pensioners and other elderly residents of Beit Shemesh with problems they may encounter around their homes.
Upon hearing of the Beckers' new goal, Burt, who has been instrumental in placing Torah Scrolls in more than ten other communities in Israel, immediately got to work. With the help of numerous donors in Ramat Beit Shemesh and in the United States, and with help from the Mishmeret Kedusha (Holiness Guard) organization in Jerusalem, the funds were raised and the Torah scroll was acquired.
The joyous event during which the holy scroll was actually brought into the local synagogue included singing and dancing, as is customary whenever synagogues acquire a new Torah scroll. However, it appeared to be even more joyous than usual, as residents sensed that, thanks to friends who had not forgotten them, the memory of their loved ones would continue to live on. In addition, as Deganit noted, "this is actually the town's first Sefer Torah, and the residents were very excited by it. Many of the secular people took part in the ceremony from beginning to end, and were visibly moved."
In between speeches given by Adurah's Rabbi Elishav Avichayil, Rabbi Malinowitz, Beit Shemesh Deputy Mayor Shalom Lerner, Avi Hazan's brother and others, the Kol B’Rama Choir sang a selection of tunes to the audience's satisfaction.
The Sefer Torah Recyling Network has seen to acquiring, restoring and placing eleven Torah scrolls in needy locations over the past 12 years.