A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting with some of Tucson’s “partners” who live in the small moshav (village) of Netiv Ha’asara, Israel. This small moshav, located on the border of Gaza, was founded by members who had lived in a moshav of the same name located in the Sinai Desert. That moshav was vacated when Egypt and Israel signed a peace accord in 1979.
It is a lovely community, full of productive greenhouses and dynamic and hard-working families.
During my recent visit to the area, I was able to visit with some wonderful young families who are part of a “Same Moon” project coordinated by our Jewish Federation, whereby families in Tucson partner with families in Israel in a monthly exchange of letters, pictures and emails. The families we visited were hospitable and able to spend time with us discussing their lives and hopes. A more promising future could not be imagined. As part of our growing partnership exchange, this region is also visited annually by many visitors from Tucson, including University of Arizona and Tucson Hebrew Academy students.
While the visit was wonderful, it was interrupted on several occasions by sirens announcing missiles being fired into Israel from Gaza. Sadly, residents on this moshav have been living with these terrifying dashes to the nearby bomb shelters since 2001, four years before Israel withdrew its presence from Gaza in 2005.
Amongst the residents in Netiv Ha’asara is a wonderful lady named Roni Kedar, who is well-known for her friendship with Gaza residents whom she helps transport to Israeli medical services for their routine appointments, and Tzameret, an artist who has created a beautiful Peace Wall of original tiles, right on the border. It inspired me to see that so many Israelis, like Roni and Tzameret are able keep their hearts open to their neighbors in Gaza even as they live with the threat of missiles fired indiscriminately in their direction.