לרגל שנת החמישים לשחרור ירושלים, יהודה, שומרון, הגולן וסיני העלון "יש"ע שלנו" ממועצת יש"ע מביא כל שבוע את סיפורם של מייסדי ההתיישבות.
בשבועיים האחרונים התפרסם, ב2 חלקים, סיפורה של יהודית שלנו.
סיפורה של יהודית קצובר
נולדתי באייר תש"ז בטרנסילבניה (היום בריבונות רומניה, פעם הונגריה), להורים חסידי סאטמר, אבל ציוניים, אשר היו שייכים לפועלי אגודת ישראל.
הוריי נישאו לאחר השואה, בהתחלה לא מתוך אהבה, אלא כדי לבנות את עם ישראל מחדש.
שלושה ילדים הביאו לעולם, משפחה גדולה במושגים של אירופה אחר המלחמה. בהיותי בת 12 עלינו לארץ ישראל.
גדלתי ולמדתי בכפר אליהו שעל יד גדרה. ב-1966, עם תעודת הוראה ביד, ירדתי לדרום, לדימונה, שם הכרתי את בעלי צבי, נישאנו, ושנינו שקענו בהוראה ובעשייה.
את מלחמת ששת הימים "עשינו" במקלטים של ביה"ס שבו שהו כל התלמידים עם הוריהם. שחרור ירושלים הרעיד את הלבבות וזקף את קומתנו.
להמשך קריאה: http://myesha.org.il/?CategoryID=379&ArticleID=7844
בעוד אנו פועלות בנצר, מתקשר אלינו חגי הוברמן בשנת 2008 ואומר לנו "תעלו לשדמה לפני שהרשות הפלשתינית תשתלט על המחנה".
שדמה, מחנה צבאי שצה"ל נטש, במקום אסטרטגי בין הר חומה לתקוע, שולט על הכביש המזרחי החדש, גבעה בשטח Cהמוקפת בשטחי A ו-B והייתה סכנה שנאבד את המקום.
השתלטות של הערבים על אותה גבעה חלילה הייתה יכולה לגרום לניתוק הרצף היהודי בין ירושלים לגוש עציון מזרח.
הערבים טוענים ב"הומניות", שברצונם להקים שם בית חולים.
עלינו לשם. הערבים כבר הספיקו להרוס הכל, לעקור כל מה שהיה במחנה, רק שלושה מבנים נותרו.
החלטנו לפעול בהתמדה כדי להציל את המקום מהשתלטות לא חוקית של הערבים
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Golan Heights and the Sinai, the weekly Yesha Shelanu newsletter publishes interviews with the founders of the settlement movement; the pioneers who, immediately after the Six Day war, renewed Jewish life in Israel's Biblical Heartland. These past two weeks they published the story of our very own Yehudit Katsover.
For the original Hebrew text
Translated into English by Sally Zahav
The story of Yehudit Katsover
Yehudit Katsover, resident of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, is married to Zvi Katsover, mother of 5 children and grandmother of grandchildren.
She is co-chair of the Women in Green movement and is the founder of the Sovereignty Movement together with Nadia Matar. Yehudit and Nadia have been leading in recent years the practical discourse for Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
1. A Bit of Background
"I was born in April 1947 in Transylvania (once Hungarian, but now under Romanian sovereignty) it was something like living in "the territories". My parents were Satmar Hasidim, but also Zionists, who belonged to Poalei Agudat Israel. There was an abiding longing for the Land of Israel in their home. They were steadfastly and expectantly waiting for the approval of the authorities to immigrate to the Land of Israel. My mother is a survivor of Auschwitz and my father studied at Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum's Satmar yeshiva.
My parents married after the Holocaust. It was not for love, at first, but in order to rebuild the Jewish People. They brought three children into the world. In post-war Europe, this was a large family. We made aliya to the Land of Israel when I was 12 years old, arriving in the month of Nissan. The first thing that made a great impression on me in Haifa was the light. It was a clear, bright, pure light, which exists nowhere else in the world. We were sent to Dimona by the Jewish Agency – but my parents, with their 70 kilos of belongings - settled down in B'nei B'rak, for religious reasons. (I would eventually go to Dimona later).
I grew up and went to school in Kfar Eliahu, near Gedera. In 1966, with a teacher's certificate in hand, I went south to Dimona, where I met my husband Tzvi. We married and were both deeply engaged in education and other activities. We passed the Six Day War in school shelters with all of the children and their parents. The liberation of Jerusalem moved us to the core, caused us to be so proud; the song, Jerusalem of Gold, echoed everywhere, was heard from every building.
2. The Move to Kiryat Arba-Hevron
Benny, Zvi's brother, married in Hevron. He and his wife Bina were living in the Administration Building, where we used to visit them. One of these times, during a tour of the area, Benny told Zvi, "This is where Kiryat Arba will be". And Zvi, without consulting me, gave him a promise: "if there is going to be a city here, we are coming".
Kiryat Arba was established in August 1971, and anyone who knows Zvi knows that he keeps his promises. I fought the decision vigorously. It was good for us in Dimona. What more did we need besides our social and educational activity and community in the Negev? But Zvi claimed, and rightly so, that "many people will come to Dimona. Fewer will come to Hevron. The challenge now is to settle the liberated areas". It was not easy. Looking back years later, I was fortunate that Zvi won this argument.
We arrived in Kiryat Arba on the first day it was possible to move in. It was Rosh Hashanah eve, 1971. There was no doctor, no telephones, no sidewalks, in the winter there was mud all over, there was no transportation. Luckily, Rav Levinger, ztz"l, who was the head of the residents' committee, tried to help me cope during this difficult period. I began to work as a cultural coordinator together with him. The rabbi's personal example, his ethical behavior, his family's frugality, Rav Levinger's total dedication, the many discussions and endless arguments, finally broke through the wall of alienation. I began to participate in the noble struggles to develop Kiryat Arba, to expand the hours for Jews to be allowed to pray in the Cave of the Patriarchs; entering Beit Hadassah and staying there for months, together with 13 other women and our children, under the leadership of Rabbanit Miriam Levinger, all that was the perfect melting pot.
I learned much from the Rav, and in everything I do I try to act in accordance with three principles that he taught us: initiate – determine facts on the ground; carry out public relations activities in favor of the action; lobby in Knesset and bolster the government.
3. The Beit Hadassah Story Could Provide Material for a Hollywood Film.
Info: The historic Bet Hadassa complex in Hebron was built in 1893 with funds from Jewish communities around the world. Later the Hadassah Organization turned it into a medical clinic which granted free medical care to both Jewish and Arab residents. In 1929 the hospital was the site of some of the worst rioting by Arabs who murdered 67 Jewish residents of Hebron. The clinic was looted and burnt. The liberation of Hebron in 1967 enabled the Jews to return the Jewish presence to Bet Hadassa.
Construction in Kiryat Arba was frozen. Nothing new was being built. People gathered for a meeting at Rav Levinger's house. How can we break though the building freeze?
The idea of entering the Beit Hadassah building in Hebron came from artist Baruch Nahshon, whose wife Sarah and their ten children were among those who participated. Zambish (Ze'ev Hever) and Dompa (Aharon Domb) were responsible for the planning and logistics of the operation to enter Beit Hadassah. Late one night, in 1979, 13 mothers and 45 children with minimal equipment got into a truck. The idea was that Prime Minister Begin, Polish gentleman as he was, would not evict the women and children who had entered without the husbands. We entered the bet Hadassa building on Thursday, before dawn. If we could manage to remain Thursday, Friday and Shabbat, we hoped that this would constitute a "chazaka". We arrived by truck to the back of Beit Hadassah. A ladder was raised. We climbed the ladder one by one. We passed the fence and found ourselves in the courtyard of Beit Hadassah. In front of Beit Hadassah there always were Israeli soldiers on guard duty because of a previous attempt to enter. We had to keep totally silent so that we would not draw the soldiers' attention. One of the open miracles was that no child uttered even a peep and none cried during this time.
We entered the lower floor or the building. It was totally dark. Our footsteps raised clouds of dust that had lain undisturbed over the years. We settled down for a short nap. The morning sun was rising and the soldiers were surprised by the women and children in the building. We began to survey the building and try to organize a daily routine.
The Division Commander – Fuad Ben Eliezer – came and decided that no one else could enter Beit Hadassah, and a list of names was made. Whoever was already there could stay. But if someone left they could not return. We received supplies from Kiryat Arba. They brought essential supplies and passed them through the windows. They brought water in jerry cans, set up 2 chemical toilets, we bathed sparingly, a cup of water was enough for a decent bath; we started a school on site, the wonderful women of Kiryat Arba who visited, took laundry and returned clean clothes and diapers. Everything was passed through the windows, for we could not go out and they could not enter the building.
On the first Shabbat eve it was a bit sad, but this feeling quickly dissipated. When prayers to welcome the Shabbat were over at the Cave of the Patriarchs, the entire community came to Beit Hadassah and broke out in powerful song that echoed into the distance. Even today, when I remember this event, I am overcome with emotion and my entire body trembles. This singing on Erev Shabbat, while we were inside and they were outside, continued for the entire period of close to a full year of our stay in Beit Hadassah.
Rav Levinger's activism resulted in many visits by politicians; journalists came to see what was happening. There were difficulties, the severe hygienic conditions left their mark. There was a constant battle with lice, and then with hepatitis. Shoshana Peretz' pregnancy was progressing and there were concerns that if she left to give birth they would not allow her to return. Our friends on the outside saw an item on our daily supermarket list, a request to bring a "havilat leida" (childbirth kit). By mistake, they read "havilat glida" (a package of ice cream) and indeed, brought us some delicious ice cream. Ultimately, Shoshana did leave to give birth and afterward was allowed to return with her newborn baby girl, so a new name, Hadassah, (of course) was added to the list of the commune's residents.
On Shabbat eve, the 16th of Iyar, May 2nd, 1980, Arab terrorists ambushed the worshipers leaving the Cave of the Patriarchs. Six yeshiva students were killed and sixteen were wounded – and this was the impetus for the Jewish return to permanent residency in the Old City of Hevron .
A step forward in Hevron and a step backward in Yamit. From Bet Hadassah I went straight to Yamit. I lived in the Iksim neighborhood in Yamit with other families that had come from Kiryat Arba. The struggle in Yamit was like this:
On one hand we had faith that there would be no expulsion. But we hunkered down anyway.
The expulsion from Yamit was difficult physically, but especially emotionally. We returned home to Kiryat Arba broken and exhausted. It was difficult to talk to people who had not been expelled. Only people who had been expelled understood each other. Routine life seemed strange. How was it possible to continue after this terrible rift? Those who came from Yamit felt like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai when he emerged from the cave. Something had broken deep within the nationalist camp, our innocent faith that there was a straight line to the redemption.
4- Deputy Council Head and the Struggles to develop Kiryat Arba-Hevron
We are consoled by taking action and keeping active. Thank G-d as deputy council head of Kiryat Arba we expanded the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, and Beit Romano.
Later the Ulpana was established under the urging of Rabbi Rafi Kuperstock and they began planning a yeshiva high school, which was established when my husband Zvi was appointed as council head. I tried to be a help to him, mainly in the battles over security as a member of the Action Committee.
One of the most significant roles that I have had the privilege of fulfilling was to lead the absorption of Russian immigrants in 1990. As a teacher in the Ulpan, I experienced daily the realization of the vision of the revival of the "dry bones".
After some years, together with Rav Moshe Bleicher shlit"a and Zvi as council head, we established the (women's) College for Teachers, a branch of Efrata College. We began with 17 students, but by the time I ended my term as principal of the college after 20 years, there were 200 students, filled with a spirit of mission and dedication to the next generation.
The Expulsion from Gush Katif and Following the Expulsion
During the Expulsion from Gush Katif we were in Gadid, where I met Nadia Matar, of Women in Green, who was with her family in Kfar-Yam. The naiveté of Yamit transformed into a resolute decision – no more evictions and expulsions! Immediately following the expulsion we worked together with Rav Levinger, zt"l, until the expulsion from Beit HaShalom.
After Beit HaShalom Nadia and I focused on activism to keep the land holdings in the area of Gush Etzion from being taken over by Arabs.
The first activity was to open the Za'tara bypass road. Next, we began activities in the Netzer hills, between Elazar and Alon Shvut. We noticed that the Arabs, supported amply with funds from anti-Israel organizations from Europe and the U.S., were illegally planting in the state lands of Area C, with the obvious objective of taking over the area.
Together with dozens of Women in Green members and residents of Gush Etzion, we began to plant trees according to the map, on land that was not considered to be privately owned by Arabs. The Arabs uprooted the trees that we planted. We planted again and again. The Civil Administration "did not like" (to say the least) our work. We sent a signed letter to Shaul Goldstein, council head at that time, saying that we had no claims on the land, on the trees, or on the fruit of the trees that we had planted. Everything was for the good of the country, with the goal of preventing illegal Arab takeover of these lands.
We succeeded to plant many acres of land. After years of Sisyphean activity in the field, we were successful. The land was declared to be state land and is now under the jurisdiction of the council.
While we were still active in Netzer, Hagai Huberman telephoned us in 2008, saying "Go up to Shdema before the Palestinian Authority takes over the camp". Shdema, an abandoned IDF military camp, located strategically between Har Homa in Southern Jerusalem and Tekoa in Gush Etzion and controlling the new eastward road, is located on a hill in Area C that is surrounded by Areas A and B. There was a danger that we might lose the site. If the Arabs took over that hill, G-d forbid, it would mean that the Jewish territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion would be cut off from the east. The Arabs were claiming that they wanted to establish a hospital there. They used the "humane" argument even though they could set up hospitals anywhere they want in areas A and B. Clearly their intention was not the hospital but rather the take-over of this strategic hill in area C.
We went up – the Arabs had already ruined and looted everything, destroyed all that was at the camp, so that only 3 buildings remained. We decided that there would be continuous activity there, in order to save the site from illegal Arab takeover. We established the Committee for a Jewish Shdema" with Women in Green members and activists from East Gush Etzion and Har Homa. Simultaneously, we established the Lobby for a Jewish Shdema in the Knesset. After a struggle of several years, in which we came every week to Shdema with dozens and sometimes hundreds of activists, supported by the participation of the Gush Etzion Council under Shaul Goldstein, we succeeded to restore a Jewish presence to the site. The IDF returned and turned the site into a military camp once again.
We used this same pattern of action with the Adorayim Camp in South Hevron Hills, where the council, led by Tzviki Bar-Hai, then established an emergency center. Also in the battle for Givat Ha'Eitam near Efrat, which constitutes the land reserves for the city's development, after two years of intensive activity, the council, led by Oded Ravivi, took over the project and established a farm at the site.
We saw that each battle for every hill took us years and a tremendous amount of resources but did not solve the underlying problem for the Land of Israel. We, the Jews living in Judea and Samaria, in the eyes of the authorities, are considered the invaders, in their eyes we are here temporarily. And while it is true that we have managed to redeem a few hills, at the same time, the Arabs, funded by millions of dollars from abroad, are taking over hundreds of other hills, and at this rate we will lose all the state lands and Jewish communities will become isolated islands within a sea of Arabs, Heaven forbid. And the worst part is that the Land of Israel is always on the bargaining table. We understood that we had to take care of the problem at its root.
Setting out on a Campaign for the Application of Sovereignty –Conferences, a Journal, Parlor meetings, Vigils
We decided to demand the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. So that the Israeli Knesset and government would declare once and for all that this Land is ours, to cut off the Arab hopes for a state in the heart of our Land, that it should resolve this matter as it did with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Uri Elitzur, z"l, MK Geula Cohen, Caroline Glick, Rav Beni Elon, z"l and Dr. Martin Sherman all expressed this idea before we did, speaking and writing on the subject. We turned it into a full fledge campaign, that would constantly focus on the subject of sovereignty and we have been, and still are, acting continuously to instill awareness of the subject.
The first Forum for Sovereignty met in Geula Cohen's home back in 2011, with the participation of Caroline Glick, Dr. Moti Kedar, Eran Bar Tal, Rabbanit Melamed, Rav Itai Elitzur, Shimon Cohen and Yoram Ettinger. Today there is an expanded committee for Sovereignty – its members include Sam Solomon, Avraham Shvut, Shosh Shilo, Renee Margolis, Ruthi Lieberman, Lior Shurka, Uri Bank, Ruthi Ben Haim, Tanah Lehavi, Dr. Aviah Shoham, Col. (Res.) Moshe Peled and Yoav Tuvia.
In 2011, we started out with the first Sovereignty Conference in Hevron. Approximately 250 people participated and there were courageous speakers, among whom were MK Tzipi Hotovely, who is still actively involved in promoting the application of Israeli sovereignty. We were all perceived as totally delusional. Even in our own camp.
After a year had passed, we organized the second conference in Hevron, but during the year we held parlor gatherings and many personal discussions with public figures – the hall overflowed with people so we set up a screen outside of the hall and a year afterward we organized a third conference, this time in Jerusalem. We had planned to hold the conference in the Bible Museum – a place that is symbolic and very fitting for the topic of Sovereignty. But even during the first stages of registration we understood that we would not be able to hold all of those who registered. So we changed the location to a hall in Bayit veGan that held about 800 people. At the time of the conference, attended by ministers, MKs, academicians and public figures, about 1000 people crowded into the hall and outside were another few hundred who were unable to enter. This is when we began to draw the attention of the media.
Nadia and I felt that we were not reaching enough people so we decided to publish a journal, which is distributed in 200,000 (two hundred thousand) copies in Hebrew and English. We also set up a Sovereignty Internet site in Hebrew and in English www.ribonut.co.il
The strategy was that we would begin to raise awareness among the people in our own communities, and then expand the activity among the nationalist camp all over the country. The concrete barriers on Route 60 served us as bulletin boards. Sometimes we paid a fine but it "did the job".
We did not (nor do we now) have money for large and extended campaigns because on the Right, people make contributions for buildings, institutions, ambulances or Torah scrolls, which are all important causes, but to raise money for public advocacy is much more difficult. To many donors, donating to campaigns to change the public consciousness seems as if he is giving money for no purpose because he cannot see the result right away. But thank G-d some donors believed in this campaign and enabled us to act. This is certainly a good occasion to thank them.
Few believed that it would be possible to advance the cause of sovereignty. We continued with conferences (the fourth one was in February 2017, when more than 1200 people came and Arabs from Judea and Samaria who wanted Israeli sovereignty also participated), parlor gatherings, publishing a journal, we spent hours in the Knesset, speaking with council heads and in vigils at the prime minister's residence. We also started planning a master plan for Greater Israel after we found out that in its 70 years of independence, and fifty years since the liberation of Judea and Samaria, the State of Israel has not produced any strategic master plan for the Greater Land of Israel west of the Jordan.
The council heads in Judea and Samaria joined the efforts, the YESHA (Judea , Samaria and Gaza) Council, Amana, Orit Struk and our friends from the Likud Shevach Stern, Natan Englesman and Shai Merling have done, and are still doing, outstanding work. Among other things, they organized the assembly of the Likud Central Committee where 1500 members of the committee voted unanimously in favor of sovereignty in the areas of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.
The Land of Israel Lobby under the leadership of MK Yoav Kish and MK Bezalel Smotrich promoted the application of Israeli law in Ma'ale Adumim and just recently proposed a law consistent with the decision of Likud Central.
Members of Knesset Yoav Kish, Bezalel Smotrich, Miki Zohar and Yehuda Glick have prepared detailed plans for the application of sovereignty. The great majority of ministers and Likud members support the application of sovereignty and members of HaBayit HaYehudi all support the application of sovereignty. Minister Bennett has contributed considerably to the promotion of sovereignty with the Israel Stability Initiative in April 2012.
Following the Six Day War, what began in the Left weakly, with the publication of journal "A Conversation among Warriors", gained strength after the Yom Kippur War with the establishment of the Peace Now movement, under Uri Avneri, who began a "peace attack" in the media, academia and the justice system. Within 20 years they had won quite a bit of success influencing the discourse, the effect of which was felt even in the prime minister's Bar Ilan speech. One of the open miracles was that despite the intensive brainwashing, the people moved to the right. The people understand that the concessions promoted by the Left weakened us against the enemy by giving him the hope, a hope that resulted in terror. The political system in the Right understands the spirit of the people and responds to it.
The American administration under Trump is sympathetic to Israel. The declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel constitutes a key to the application of sovereignty. The Sovereignty Movement, founded by Women in Green, serves as a platform for all the different groups and individuals who speak and act toward the application of sovereignty. There is still a lot of work ahead. It took the Left 20 years to change the discourse. We, the Sovereignty Movement, continue to work hard on all fronts and we hope that the plan to apply sovereignty will be faster and will be legislated by the Knesset and overcome all obstacles.
Establishing Oz veGaon
As we were engaged in the Sovereignty Campaign, the three youths, Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali, Hy"d, were abducted in Gush Etzion by Arab terrorists. Eighteen days later, On the 3rd of Tamuz, June 2014, immediately after the bodies of the youths were found, we decided that this event must not be glossed over quietly. We had to provide a Zionist response.
Dozens of Women in Green members together with residents from Gush Etzion, and with support from the Gush Etzion Council headed by Davidi Perl, ascended the hill overlooking the junction and began preparing the place as a significant Jewish holding on the road ascending from Hevron to Jerusalem. This was our immediate Zionist response to the vile murder.
Our activity at the preserve had the full support of the families of Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Frenkel and the place was named after the youths – Oz veGaon (Gil-ad Eyal and Naftali).
Since that night when the activists went up to begin the work of preparing the preserve, many groups of youths, young men and women alike, have come to the site from throughout the Land, and even from abroad, to participate in cleaning the place, weeding, paving, painting, installing lighting, installing park equipment and taking part in creative and cultural activities involving Jewish and Zionist values.
The preserve has become a place that IDF soldiers and security people view as a strategic point for the protection of Gush Etzion Junction. Educational and hasbara activities are held at the place, as well as training for groups and individuals on topics of heritage, Judaism, history and Zionism. To date, tens of thousands of youths have taken part in these activities.
The many youths that visit the preserve participate in agricultural workshops, strengthening their bonds to the soil, they study ecology, art and culture along with lessons in self-defense taught by Elyashiv Kimhi and Tsuri Botush.
There are also facilities for Jewish studies at the preserve. On Tuesdays there is a Beit Midrash for women, called Havruta, at Oz veGaon, where dozens of women enjoy lessons in the Prophets and Writings, given by leading rabbis and excellent lecturers, and in the evenings, the Beit Midrash opens its doors to men for lessons led by Rav Mor Bergman.
To commemorate the completion of three years since the establishment of Oz veGaon, the Zionist Avenue was dedicated, where ideological quotes from Zionist leaders from the past 120 years are posted. There is also an interactive seating area where there is information and poems about milestones in Zionist history.
In this same ideological public spirit, the Sovereignty movement founded by Women in Green holds conferences and lectures at the preserve on matters dealing with the application of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Leading shapers of public opinion, MKs, ministers, rabbis and many public figures from Israel and abroad have taken part in these events
I would like to thank my friend Nadia and the Almighty, for the privilege to work together in such wonderful harmony.
I know that the way is long
But I will walk until my strength fails…
(Poem by Yehoram Taharlev)