The recent round of terror from Gaza hit the MetroWest Negev family right in the stomach. A Kassam rocket in Kibbutz Erez, a Grad missile in Ofakim, three wounded residents, including a four-month-old baby, and a casualty: Yossi Ben Shoshan (z’l), a municipal worker from Ofakim who left behind two young daughters and a nine-month-pregnant wife.
Yossi Ben Shoshan
At the same time, this cycle of terror brought with it yet another demonstration and proof of the connections, solidarity, support, and mutual responsibility that our communities feel for each other.
A couple of hours after the rocket attack on Erez I reported about it to the leadership of MetroWest. I sent some photos, and mentioned that only a few days earlier we were celebrating the ground-breaking ceremony of the new library in memory of Ted Murnick from MetroWest with our kibbutz family. I compared the ugly hole on the ground created by the Kassam to the nearby beautiful hole that we were digging together to lay the cornerstone for this library. I said I believed that the excitement, the creation, and the joy of the ground breaking are our communities’ response to the terror. I also said that our own hole will prevail.
Maxine Murnick represented her family at the ceremony and was personally digging that hole. Here are her words, when she got the devastating news:
“I know that our Erez family will remain strong. They will remember the joy as they always focus on the positive. That gives them the strength and commitment. I can see the new neighborhood and the excitement we all felt about young people coming back. I can also see each home with a new safe room, surely a recognition of the reality of the area. But I also see all those little children who were laughing and playing and dancing for us and acting out the song about the carrot. We pray that they will be safe. We send our love to them. We are with them.”
Sandy Hollander wrote to his family:
Kibbutz Erez is where Joe spent the summer after his 14th birthday 38 years ago. It is in the Negev very near to our cousins who live in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. Erez is also a long-term partner of the MetroWest Federation.
I have been there more times than I can remember. Flashing through my mind are the real faces of Erez residents, holding close their children, crowded into the art room, the workout room, shelters we helped build. I feel violated here in Newton.
I just finished reading Danny Gordis' recent Jerusalem Post column in which he laments ‘...the hatred that lingers at the heart of the world that we still inhabit.’
Amir is correct. Our hole will prevail. My grandfather was a victim — I will not be a victim.
These are only two of the many support and solidarity messages that were sent from MetroWest to our partners and friends in the Negev. Someone from Ofakim mentioned to me that she was bombarded by e-mails from her many friends in New Jersey. I told her that our goal is to make sure that we launch more solidarity messages than the number of rockets launched on the region.
One of the victims of the missile attack was a resident of Ofakim who was, thank God, only lightly wounded. I don’t know his name but I see him in the attached photo being carried by a medic to be evacuated to Soroka Hospital. He is only four months old. This was one of his first welcoming ceremonies into our evil world. But this photo is also a reminder of our response and of the fact that this world is beautiful as well. Not less than four lovely babies were born to our Ofakim-Merchavim Peoplehood Project participants in the last couple of weeks. We pray for healthy and happy childhoods for all babies and their parents.
Back to the ground-breaking ceremony for the library in Erez. In addition to the Murnicks, another family is contributing to the construction: the Arazi family, in memory of their late grandfather. The granddaughter, Omer (18), was happy to see us in her kibbutz. She is known to our community as she spent a semester in MetroWest together with Narmeen, a Palestinian girl, a couple of years ago. It was part of a unique Jewish-Arab encounter that we have created, sponsored, and hosted. Omer and Narmeen were trying to prove, with our support, that dialogue, coexistence, and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis is still possible.
Omer is going into the IDF in few months. Narmeen is somewhere in Ramallah. The library in Erez, facing Gaza, will be built in spite of the terror. The hope for dialogue, coexistence, and cooperation looks very fragile, naïve, and far away. However, while building our country, while connecting our communities, and while fighting the terror, we shouldn’t lose this hope. We always have to seek and pursue peace. It is one of the most meaningful commitments that we need to make to the children of Ofakim, Ramallah, Erez, and Gaza.