At the Gush Etzion Lag Ba'omer festival
At the Gush Etzion Lag Ba'omer festivalArik Marmor

In a Tuesday event organized by the Gush Etzion Regional Council for Lag Ba’Omer, thousands of people set off on a march from Battle Hill, where the division of 35 soldiers known as the Lamed Heh fell. People marched to the center of Gush Etzion, where they participated in a spectacular and emotional ceremony that marked the close of the community’s 80th anniversary events.

The march was attended by residents, visitors, and members of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, who came from all over the country. Bnei Akiva’s Kaveh group, which will soon be undertaking various positions of leadership in Chevraya Bet (ninth grade), marched in honor of the heritage, courage, and character of the Lamed Heh Mountain Division. While marching along this historical route, the youth established connection with the story of bravery, the heroes themselves, Gush Etzion, and with establishing their lives in the region.

The trek concluded with a special, moving light and sound presentation, which was magnificent. The presentation was produced especially for the evening’s festivities, which was attended by thousands of Bnei Akiva youth and Gush Etzion residents, who represent the never-ending spirit of the Zionist vision.

During the ceremony, plaques of appreciation were distributed to the veteran residents of Gush Etzion, from the pre-1948 generation: Rivka Nedivi, Miriam Livneh, Dov Landau, Rachel Sokel, and Naomi Schor from Kibbutz Revadim. Mention was made of the late Rachel Doron, who passed away on the Shabbat (Sabbath) prior to the ceremony. The ceremony concluded a month brimming with festivities in honor of the 80th anniversary of Gush Etzion.

In light of the security situation, Bnei Akiva broadcast the event to branches that could not attend due to order from the Home Front Command. Likewise, members of the Kaveh group saluted the southern communities.



Gush Etzion Regional Council head and Chairman of the Yesha Council, Shlomo Ne'eman, said, “It was very emotional seeing Dov Landau dancing on stage to the song, Po Eretz Chemdat Avot (Here is the Land of our Fathers’ Delight); Dov Landau, who managed to survive five concentration camps, among them Auschwitz and Birkenau, as well as the death march. He came to Israel, fought in the battles for Gush Etzion, and was taken into captivity in Jordan, where he remained for 11 months. And seeing the other members of the founding generation receive plaques with him: Rivka Nedivi, Rachel Sokel, Miriam Livneh, and Naomi Schor of Kibbutz Revadim.”

“We are glad to have the cooperation of Bnei Akiva, and for this intergeneration connection, which changes the story of Gush Etzion to the story of Israel. A story of pioneers and perseverance throughout the journey; of Gush Etzion’s momentary fall, to which her residents returned after 19 years. Today, we are witnessing another cycle - the campaign to counter terrorism in the Gaza Strip. This is the time to recall another 'Gush,' Gush Katif, from where we were uprooted and to where, with God’s help, we will also return.”

Yigal Klein, Secretary-General of Bnei Akiva, said, “The same day we light bonfires in celebration of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a student of Rabbi Akiva, we march along the path of the Lamed Heh, and kindle the fire within ourselves; they are the flames of love for the Land, the People, and the Torah, that is manifested through building communities in Gush Etzion. We see the thousands of youth who have arrived, and who understand more than ever that our future generation has a burning inner desire to add light and goodness to all national movement activity. Today, the Bnei Akiva movement seeks to impart strength to the residents of the South, and to send wishes to the soldiers of the IDF, for success and blessings in all their endeavors.”
At the Gush Etzion Lag Ba'omer festival
At the Gush Etzion Lag Ba'omer festivalArik Marmor