Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Challenge of Chomesh (short version)

(previous post provides the long version)

What better way to celebrate Israel Independence Day than to spend the day walking through the land with thousands of fellow lovers of Zion? When we heard about the walk to Chomesh, it was clear to the whole family that we’d be there. I’m deeply grateful we went.

We left Ma’aleh Adumim at about 10:20. After a pit stop at Ofra we continued towards Shavei Shomron. We got very close to the intersection of Zomet Jit. We couldn’t continued by bus. Smaller vehicles were still going forward but it was clear that we weren’t. We piled off the bus and started walking. It was about noon. I figured, we’ll walk 15-20 minutes, get to Shavei Shomron, eat, and start our hike. Boy, was I wrong! We started walking to Zomet Jit and then towards Shavei Shomron.

Jeeps drove up and down the road. People blocked the jeeps, singing and ignoring them. After about 90 minutes we came to a row of jeeps and LOTS of guys in black. Black jumpsuits labeled “Zahal”, but, surprise! No names. No insignia. We saw a knot of men yelling and pushing. Us and Them. Then I saw the scariest guy in black jump at one of our guys. Two of our guys intervened. Our guy was put in the back of a jeep. Someone was yelling, “Jews with cameras, come take pictures!” Drat! We forgot the camera.

My kids and I were shaken. We had been walking near a group of girls from the Ulpana in Shvut Rachel. They had a guitar and a harmonica and were singing. When the fight started they all screamed and ran to the side. After we passed the jeeps they started to play again, but more subdued.

Then my daughter called - a girl had been knocked down by a jeep. My daughter told me that the jeep came speeding along. A girl who couldn’t get out of the way fast enough received a glancing blow from the front wheel. Before she could recover she was also hit by the back wheel! My daughter didn’t know how badly the girl was hurt, or what happened to her, but was understandably upset.

As we got closer to the crossroads some of our guys were screaming at the guys in black. Finally one of the younger guys in black gave a shove to our guy, but his fellow black jumpsuits pulled him away. Our guys were provocative, though I can understand them. Baruch Hashem we got passed that too.

After a break for food and water we started to hike. Eretz Yisrael yafa v’gam porachat. Such flowers, such greenery. Beautiful weather, cooling breezes, am yisrael beyachad. People singing. It was great.

I chatted with a woman from Katif. On the one hand, she said that she would have prefered Katif First but she expressed gratitude that the Katif community is still all together and that they are managing. She said that the community was so wonderful that she would do it again. It was worth it, she said, to have lived in Katif.

Not long after that we came upon Tzvi Katzover talking about how many times they had to try before they succeeded in establishing Elon Moreh. He was really interesting. I wish I’d heard more.

As we got to the road that leads to Chomesh from Sebastia, we found the way blocked by a pile of dirt, and men trying to pull it down. We started up the road and someone pointed out the hill that Chomesh is on. It looked MUCH further than I expected, and I had forgotten how high it is. Walking was getting really tough for me.

The view became more breathtaking. People’s spirits were up. People on bicycles were going by, people were starting to come down.

Finally we saw people going up a steep little path. Hey! Maybe this is the path to the Chomesh hill! I was sure that we were close. We weren’t. More than an hour remained!

In short, I made my way up to Chomesh, step by painful step. The closer we got to Chomesh, the more people were coming down. Still, everyone was happy and enjoying the outing. Feeling good, happy to be Jews in Israel. The view on the road was stunning. We could see the whole coastal plain spread out below us and the sea. People were trying to encourage us: “You’re close! You’re almost there!”

Finally, we reached Chomesh. I wasn’t able to continue up to the top where the atzeret was, but my kids made sure to take the marshmallows.

I waited as it began to get dark. The stunning sunset was also scary. Streams of people were leaving. My family collected me and we started walking to where we the shuttle buses were supposed to have been. We stopped there with 100s of other people hoping that the army would HAVE to move us. My husband got me into an army van that was bringing down injured.

We thought the van was taking us to Shavei Shomron but it dropped us off back at the Shavei Shomron crossroads. All the buses were at Zomet Jit! The good people of Shavei Shomron were shuttling walkers from the yishuv to Zomet Jit. At Jit I was able to get a bus to Jerusalem and make my way home. I was home by 11:10
My day was not done. Hubby had organized the bus from Ma’aleh Adumim, and now his cell phone was failing and he was still at Chomesh. I became the command center, taking and making calls to our group to make sure we knew where everyone was and that everyone knew where to meet the bus. My family finally got on a bus to go down to Shavei Shomron. Coming down the mountain was slow because there were still many people walking on the road. Finally at 12:15, hubby and kids got on the Ma’aleh Adumim bus at Shavei Shomron.

In conclusion, I believe it was the best possible way to spend Yom Ha’atzmaut. Nevertheless the army’s treatment of the marchers was contemptible and was totally political. Had they allowed the shuttle buses, the soldiers would have been able to finish much earlier. Instead the tired soldiers had to remain to protect the tired marchers in the dark. What lesson did they teach us? That we cannot rely on the army? It was very frustrating. In my opinion hating the army is hating ourselves. We cannot hate the army. But we can protest and condemn the political machine that forces us to harm ourselves.

I’m glad we went. I think it was very important that we went. I hope my kids will be glad they went - if not now then when they’re older. We MUST walk this land, because that’s how we show it’s ours. Maybe I wouldn’t go, but I’d certainly send my kids again.

Next year, may we all be marching to re-establish all the destroyed communities, and to establish new ones! Am yisrael, b’eretz yisrael, b’torat yisrael. Ani ma’amin!


Cosmic X said...

This is the short version? :)

My son was also in Chomesh. He told me he wondered how women and children were able to make it back to Kedumim without busses after the long trek to Chomesh.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

The wonderful people from Shavei Shomron shuttled people from the yishuv to zomet Jit and to Kedummim. My family left the hilltop at midnight! Kol hakavod to your son, and thanks for reading.

Engineering Goddess said...

As an outsider from the US, I am in awe of the journey everyone took that day. I can only begin to start to comprehend the mean of all of this to all of you. It is truly awe inspiring to me and sounds cliche' but we do so take for granted the things we have here in the US on a daily basis.