Shabbat in Givat Ze’ev with the Ever Family
I was about to go into “panic mode” having missed the last Friday afternoon bus from Jerusalem to Givat Ze’ev when Gad Ever, one of my closest friends, called to inform me he was still in the Jerusalem area and would pick me up from the Central Bus station and take me to the West Bank settlement where his parents moved about five years ago.
As Gad and I traversed highway 443 which connects Givat Zeev with Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, we watched the sun dipping beyond the hills to the East. Shabbat was approaching. Soon, public transportation in Israel would shut down, and people around the country would put away their mobile devices in preparation for the Sabbath, the national day of rest.
Givat Ze’ev is a thriving settlement just northwest of Jerusalem. It’s named after Ze’ev Vladimir Zhabotinsky, perhaps the single greatest Jewish leader of the 20th century. The population of Givat Ze’ev numbers about 11,200. Most of these are young families. The flourishing municipality has continued expanding under Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.
Having said a brief “Hello” to Gad’s mom, I took the next half an hour to take some pictures of the serene countryside. I imagined how much my parents would perhaps enjoy living here one day. I imagined this Judean town growing into a sprawling city. “One day,” I thought, “…it will be possible.”
Shabbat at the Ever’s was a refreshing experience. Gad’s parents came to Israel from Yemen as little kids. His dad fought in the Sinai Campaign of 1956 and the Six Day War of 1967. The Ever kids all served in the army–the boys along with the girls. It’s a family that’s time and time again risked their lives for the future of the Jewish people. A majority of families in Givat Ze’ev are exactly the same.
His parents recounted stories about the past, and of course, his mom treated me to the finest Yemenite delicacies. As Shabbat came to an end and I was all packed and ready to go, she shoved a bag full of food into my hands.
“Here, you’ll enjoy these!” She was thanking me for helping explain her something on Facebook. No good deed goes for naught in the Ever household because this is how they were raised, and this is how their parents and grandparents were raised. Israel is a country of many unfamiliar faces; many different colors and brands. It takes time to learn to appreciate them equally. For me, it’s been a journey; one I wouldn’t ever think of doing any other way.
As the new week begins in Israel, we welcome fresh opportunities. There are problems on the horizon in Syria and Iran, but Israel will handle these in due time. Meanwhile, people are getting married, communities are being built, and Israel continues to grow. No one really buys too much into the troubles those on the outside are predicting for our tiny state. You won’t hear a word of complaint from Gad or his parents at least.
As Givat Ze’ev continues to grow, so does the rest of Israel. Now is the time to take the bull by the horns, and continue building in Judea and Samaria. I wish all of you a shavua tov, a good week from an area in Jerusalem which the world considers part of a future “Palestinian” state. May it, too, continue to grow.