Joe's Blog

The Return to Shokeda

Photo: Herzl Yosef
Residents of Shokeda celebrating their Return
Photo: Herzl Yosef, as appeared in YNet

Moshav Shokeda, a religious agricultural community, is located very close to Be’eri and other kibbutzim near the Gaza border that were brutally attacked on October 7, 2023.  But when the terrorists tried to cross the fields to Shokeda they were repelled by the IDF. While the moshav was spared for the most part, the community was evacuated due to their proximity to the destruction and the rocket attacks which continued sporadically during the following weeks. I visited the moshav in January and saw that it was largely deserted. On February 8, 2024, the residents celebrated their return to Shokeda.

From Sivan Rahav Meir, Yediot Aharonot, 22 February, 2024
(free translation from the Hebrew).

Such are the instructions for the temple” (Ezekiel 43:12). זֹאת תּוֹרַת הַבָּיִת 

These words appear in the Haftarah (selection from the prophets) from the prophet Ezekiel, read after the Torah portion. Specific details  for building the Tabernacle are found in the Torah portion (Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10)) and also in the Haftarah, such as how to build, what to take, what materials and measurements to use, and what are the building instructions. Our Sages explain that in our times we should also relate to our “tabernacle,” our private home which is a place for holiness, for the Divine Presence. Pay close attention to how it is built, especially in these days.

Hannah Cohen-Aloro returned after four and a half months at the Neve Ilan Hotel, to the moshav of Shokeda, near Be’eri. This is how she described her return to their “tabernacle” on Friday afternoon, the work of the tabernacle, and the lighting of the Eternal Light (see Exodus 27:20):

“I do a load of laundry, and another load, and another: sheets, towels, pillows, blankets. The teenagers and the Dyson vacuum cleaner are reshaping everything. Water spills, cleaning materials, music and the noise of life return. Quickly operating a mixer, rolling out dough, Karni running from corner to corner. ‘My doll.’ ‘My cart.’ ‘My kitchen.’ The children tidy up their beds, their yard, each their own corner. Aroma of cakes, vegetable peels, pot of meatballs, grilled meat, braiding challahs. Setting the table and I am in tears. The tablecloth, the utensils, the napkins, how everything is so emotionally moving. I lit [Shabbat] candles in the house, with olive oil, with our melodies. It’s simply a holy moment. And I slept like I haven’t slept since Simchat Torah (October 7th).

“That’s it, a week that we are at home. If I would write to you that I’ve felt all this week a revelation of Divine Presence it will sound strange and exaggerated, right? After Shabbat, on the first night I went out with the car, I drove on these dark roads here, and through all the kibbutzim on the way in darkness. Painful. This darkness is justified but dark. When I arrived home I parked the car and saw the lights of my house lit up. And I burst into tears. I just sat there and felt how it has fallen into our historical lot to be those who physically come and kindle the light. Let them see it on the road, in fields, in forests and in hearts. That our light is burning