Monday, May 24, 2010

Summary of Jericho trip

"Once more we'll go down to the Dead Sea, towards Jericho!"

We returned to Jericho, but we didn't go in. Jericho was closed to us by the IDF.

We stopped by Jericho's most authentic representative, Erna Kubus, who lives in Beit Hogla. Erna, sun-burnt from her twenty-year-struggle to guard Jericho and our connection to it, lest it fade from our people's
awareness, received us happily.

We arrived the day after Shavuot, on one of our monthly tours of Women for Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green). About 100 people, guided by Dr. Haggi Ben-Artzi, participated in our tour.

Haggi drew a connection between the earth we walked on and Biblical verses. At the Abdullah Bridge, he brought to life the Biblical episode of Israel's crossing the Jordan, as well as the episode of their circumcision at Givat HaAralot, and he called upon the entire Jewish People to come on 7 Adar, the day of Moses's passing, and to visit the entire area, and the foot of Mount Nevo in particular.

For several hours we returned to the pinnacles of Jewish history, to our parting with Moses, who was not privileged to enter Eretz Yisrael; to Israel's entry into the Land led by Joshua, son of Nun, who was
devoted to Eretz Yisrael; to our crossing the Jordan; to the miracle of Erna's farm extending over the hills right next to Jericho.

Erna's fervor is hotter than the sun beating down on the Plains. Mostly, in her words, Erna is alone with G-d. Following many struggles full of stubbornness and persistence, she succeeded in establishing a green oasis one stop before the entrance to Jericho, like the Matriarch Rachel, waiting for the Jewish People to return to Jericho, the front door to the Land of Israel.

Hebron, Shechem, Shiloh and Bet El have merited the return of their children, but Jericho is still awaiting their return.

At day's end, Erna remained alone, yet many of her enthused visitors promised to attend the bi-weekly Torah lecture held there, and to come for Shabbatot. Erna, through her simplicity and naturalness, has succeeded in planting the hope, will and optimism to make people attach themselves still more to our land. After all, that is what our monthly trips are meant to do.

During the tour, which lasted an entire day, Jewish history of the distant past intermingled with history of the recent past. As we stood by the mass grave of Beit HaArava, Haggi Ben Artzi passionately told of Kibbutz Beit HaArava's establishment, of the desert flowering, of the potash factory's establishment, of the Jews' banishment from the area in 1948, of the heroism of Yehuda Almog and his oath to return to the valley and to make it bloom anew. In 1967, as we sing in "Jerusalem of Gold," "we returned to the water cisterns, to the
marketplace, the square, and the road to Jericho".

Yet in exchange for a piece of paper and a false accord, we relinquished Jericho, and the danger of concessions continues to loom in the air.

Erna Kubus's determination and stubbornness provide us all with the strength to carry on the struggle over Eretz Yisrael.

G-d willing, the next Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green) tour will be on 2 Tamuz to the Galilee. The topic will be the conquest of the land by Jews circa 100 years ago, the Arabs' attempted
encroachment on the land today, and, once more, the efforts of the "Shomer HeChadash" [New Guard] organization to guard and redeem the land. Details to follow.

Pictures taken by "Women for Israel's Tomorrow" (Women in Green) can
be found by clicking on Rivka Ryback's Yeshabulletin:

For details, contact Yehudit Katsover at 050-7161818 or Nadia Matar at

Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380

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