Dear Pen-Pal from Turmos Ayya;
I'd like to know a little more about Jewish life in the West Bank, do you find it difficult? For us it is an ongoing struggle. We have the Israeli army vehicles coming into the city everyday, and were not given our primary rights. Its just an ongoing struggle.
Its difficult to answer this: What is Jewish life in the West Bank like? It's life, like in Jerusalem or Beer Sheva. Yes I see the occassional "Check Points" on the road between Shilo and Jerusalem when the Israeli security forces have received information of a possible suicide bomber or the planned movement of some known terrorist. I'm certain you'll find it hard to believe that I'm sorry to see it is still necessary to do this. At the same time, it is difficult to feel sorry for the population suffering from these actions when you see the Palestinian polls that demonstrate their broad support for suicide bombing.
I prefer to travel in bullet-proof buses, but will take a ride in a regular vehicle when I have to get somewhere quickly. In the same way I no longer stand on the roads to catch a ride, after twice being mistaken as a target by some thankfully poorly trained Arab marksman. In reality the only place I really fear for my family is when they run around the streets of Jerusalem. There two my children have thankfully been spared injury from Palestinian suicide bombers, once in a totally miraculous fashion.
But all the above does not really affect us. Oh we do recognize the dangers and pay the price of living so far from school or work - but we believe in what we are doing - living here in Shilo.
Let me digress for a moment. Shortly after I and my wife married, we moved to Jerusalem. I remember the feeling I had preparing for the festival of Passover. For almost two millenium our families had wandered the globe, Europe, Russia and North America - each year celebrating Passover and at its conclusion saying or singing "Next Year in Jerusalem". I'm certain that in many generations there was a brave or fool hardy member who didn't just 'say it' but actually made the attempt to return to the Land of Israel. Here we were celebrating Passover in Jerusalem.
What I want to share is this: it was not just our own private sense of wonder and accomplishment. No I sincerely felt that we were realizing the collective aspiration of generations of ancestors that were not capable of returning. Our celebration was theirs as much as ours! They who had "kept the faith" all those generations, had passed the traditions down to their children generation after generation - we were the culmination of everything they strove for! Got a feel for it?
Thats how we feel when we wash our dishes, weed our garden, take the dog for a walk or stroll up to the post office to collect our mail. Every single simple mundane activity is a kind of realization of the aspirations of the entire Jewish People and in that context the fulfillment of G-d's prophecies as written in the Bible. We're home. It might not be easy to be home, it might even be dangerous or 'expensive' but there is no place like home.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. I'd like to better understand what you mean by "primary rights".