Kochav Hashachar Diarist


 

We’re spending Shabbat with friends in Kochav Hashachar, a national-religious community of 300 families, comprising Kochav Hashachar itself, Maaleh Shlomo and Mitspe Kramim within the jurisdiction of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. The population is roughly 1,500.

Kochav Hashachar is located on the “Allon Road” some 18 miles North of Downtown Jerusalem. The yishuv is situated toward the Eastern edge of the Judea-Samaria Mountain Range, overlooking the Jordan Valley.

We’re staying with the Rabbi and Rebbetzin (and their four children) who mentored my wife on her journey to a more religiously observant life. Though Rabbi Hillel is from the US, and his wife Aliza, is from South Africa, they met in Israel after making Aliyah and only later returned to the town of Port Elizabeth to serve as the community Rabbi for the town’s dwindling Jewish population.

I’m sitting on a quiet hill overlooking vineyards – grapes grown in Kochav Hashachar are purchased every year by Carmel Mizrachi for their red Fantasia Sparkling Wine – and, beyond that I can see the Jordan valley.

Israelis who live in communities beyond the green line differ in their motivation.  Some are secular and others religious.  Some are ideological and others motivated by the religious significance of Judea and Samaria in the context of Jewish history, and yet others induced by more practical reasons such as the lower cost of living relative to the major urban areas.  Still others find comfort in small town life, where they know all of their neighbors, and where parents feel safe allowing their children play and roam within the community.

What strikes me also about life here is the quiet, the stillness.

Occasionally when I read accounts of life in such Moshavim in the Guardian, the words I read conjure pictures of a place which seem to represent not life as it is, but life as a parable – stories and fictive illustrations in the service of satisfying popular and conventional mores.

I often wonder whether what many in the affluent, post-nationalist West find so alien about Israelis, particularly those who have settled across the green line, is their passion for place, the reverence we possess for this particular place over all others – an apt illustration of the failure of many to understand Jewish particularism more broadly.

To discriminate, in the positive sense of the word, means to distinguish accurately;  to elevate some places over others.  To discriminate means to choose.

When you choose to identify with a particular religious community, you choose that faith and that community and not others.  When you marry, you choose your mate over everyone else. 

Residents here have chosen Kochav Hashachar over all others.

Shabbat Shalom.

10 comments on “Kochav Hashachar Diarist

  1. “Occasionally when I read accounts of life in such Moshavim in the Guardian, the words I read conjure pictures of a place which seem to represent not life as it is, but life as a parable – stories and fictive illustrations in the service of satisfying popular and conventional mores.”

    Very true. The Guardian and others like it, and their readership, have created an imaginary version of Israel that has no relationship to reality. That is why first time visitors will return to their home country exclaiming over “how different” it was from what they expected. It is also why we must keep correcting the endless stream of falsehoods that pour our of the Guardian almost daily.

  2. I’m jolly glad this kind of religious extremism doesn’t guide Israeli policy in any way.

    Oh, wait, it does.

  3. “I’m jolly glad this kind of religious extremism doesn’t guide Israeli policy in any way.”

    Your kind of extremism allowed the vast majority of Jews to be murdered by the Nazis with the collaboration of most of Europe and the complete insouciance of the Allies. The same forces are at work to destroy the Jewish state. If you were able to dissect the souls of those responsible for that extremism, you would find the Devil in residence.

    In the world you in inhabit, black is white, one and one is three, and insanity goes by the name of sanity.

  4. @Sanity, your knee jerk response to any mention of Jews who live on the other side of the 49 Armistice lines is almost comical. So, while you’re evidently not morally outraged by Palestinians who murder Israeli children as young as 3 months while they sleep, observant Jews who live peaceably in places such as Itamar and Kochav Hashachar are extremists? Really, a dissertation could be written about your political pathos.

  5. Insanity,

    Yes, we know what it takes for a Jew to be extremist, and what it takes for an Arab.

    An Arab can go the whole Helen Thomas and call for the ethnic cleansing of all Palestine of its Jews (God forbid) and still not be considered an extremists. If he wishes to be accorded that status, he needs to do a full Hitler and explicitly call for genocide. Even then, there’ll be a lot of useful idiots in the West ready to defend him (q.v. the spin on Ahmadinejad’s “wiped off the face of the earth” remark).

    But a Jew…? Nah. All a Jew has to do is to assert that he is in Palestine by right. Even regarding the pre-1967 territories, it’s “extremism” for any Jew to make such an assertion–Leftists are willing, at most, to tolerate pre-1967 Israel as a wrong that cannot be righted (as opposed to post-1967 Israel, which must be ethnically cleansed!) and therefore must, in the name of pragmatism, be indulged. But not as a Jewish right. For a Jew to assert it as a right is extremism.

    Such is the disparity between the extremism of the Jew and the Arab. Such is the double standard. Such are the rigged scales that make this conflict a zero-sum game.

  6. I often wonder whether what many in the affluent, post-nationalist West find so alien about Israelis, particularly those who have settled across the green line, is their passion for place, the reverence we possess for this particular place over all others
    because they understand the Palestinian “passion for place, the reverence [they] possess for this particular place over all others” ?

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