Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Geulat Tzion-The Redemption of Zion
Eliezer BenGershon
Geulat Tzion. The Redemption of Zion. Not only is it a meaningful phrase and a part of the Jewish prayers, but also a name of a small hilltop in Shomron (Samaria). The hilltop is home to three families and some single guys. The families live in caravans while the singles stay in tents.
I had the privilege of spending last Shabbos there along with eight other young men. We were only one short for minyan. We stayed in tents during the heat of the day and the chill of the night. Everyone brought potluck food. I got wine and Rugelachs. We had no electricity and our only light, a small Shabbos candle, quickly went out. We had few jugs as a water supply.
It was quite a contrast from the Shabboses I spent in Chicago a few weeks ago. Despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of basic comforts, my Shabbos in Geulat Tzion is one I will not forget.
Dipping in a nearby spring as a mikvah, I cleansed myself before the Shabbos. Praying outside amid the hills it was impossible not to feel awe. Up in the skies, the many stars were the reminder of God’s promise to Avraham that his descendants would be as plentiful. I tried to count them, but gave up knowing that it was impossible. Sitting together in the tent, eating from one large pot was how our biblical ancestors must have celebrated Shabboses.
During the day it was steaming hot and several of us went down the hill to sit under the only tree in the area. Just like in the story when G-d gave Jonah a tree to sit under and Jonah came to love it. I too quickly came to love the shade and protection of the tree.
If only life on the hills was as simple as that. If only everyone recognized the importance of reconnecting to our biblical roots in the modern era. If only we could all stare at the surrounding hills and appreciate the beauty of the Land of Israel.
Rumor has it that next Tuesday, on August 11, 2013, the outpost will be demolished by Israeli police and ShaBaK’s “Jewish Department”. Same happened back in February. All of the families’ possessions will be dumped and homes will be destroyed. The tents will be taken down and the idyllic little hilltop will be no more.Residents will be handcuffed & taken to jail.
Sometimes, agreements were made for Jews to leave, but in Geulat Tzion it will not be so.The families will fight for their homes and will not abandon right to live here on the Land of Israel. So, next Tuesday Israeli police and ShaBaK agents will come in the middle of the night, tear down the caravans, arrest those remaining on the hilltop, and declare the area a ‘closed military zone,’ making it illegal for anyone to be here.
The fight for the hilltop of Geulat Tzion is also the fight for the Redemption of Zion, Geulat Tzion. “The voice of my beloved is coming! Leaping on the mountains- jumping on the hilltops” (Song of Songs 2:8). The voice of the Redemption calls out from these hills. The Zionist spirit, long dead in Tel Aviv, is alive and well here. How many good yidn in New York, Chicago, London, Moscow and Buenos Aires will hear the call?

Even if they destroy this Geulat Tzion, a new one will be built. There are dozens of such hilltop outposts all over the ancient Biblical Land of Judea and Samaria. They are built by the devotedly religious young Israelis labeled “Hilltop Youth”. As Shabbos ended, we pointed to many unoccupied hills around. We said jokingly, “One day those will be Geulat Tzion Two, Three and Four.”