Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gush Katif is a Winner!

Voice of Elimelech Ben Efraiyam.
Elimelech celebrated his Bar Mitzvah shortly after submitting his project: In the Shadow of a World Destroyed, Memories of an Expelled Teenager, based on Shifra Shomron's novel, Grains of Sand. He won for
his region in the state-wide competition at Rider University in New Jersey. He was able to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah with a newly gained respect for his Jewish identity, his Land and his People because of the book and a personal connection with its author, Shifra.

The following are his personal words:

ND: The Fall of Neve Dekalim affected me in many different ways. As a teenager living comfortably in my own community, I hardly believed that over 8,000 people could be expelled from their homeland in 2005 after more than a quarter of a century of life and growth. I knew that behind the character of Efrat was a real member of this community – Shifra, the author, a teenager not much older than myself who struggled to come to terms with the loss of everything she once knew and loved.
Efrat described the vivid beauty of Neve Dekalim, and it was sad to know that this was a girl who was in many ways borne out of Shifra’s own experiences. The story made me feel sorrow that something like this could even happen. I began to realize that the destruction of Neve Dekalim would be an important story for my history project. I turned to songs to inspire me as I learned about the vibrant community of Neve Dekalim.
Neve Dekalim was Israel’s agricultural homeland. How can you not feel sadness for those living there? The greenhouse and geraniums, palm tress and paved streets – they were beautiful – it took so much time to grow and build, and only a few days to destroy it all.
GRAINS OF SAND inspired me to search for photographs and articles that chronicled the destruction of Neve Dekalim. The photos that shocked me the most were those showing the destruction of the synagogues because they were the spiritual heart of the community.
I encourage everyone to read Shifra’s book. I think they will want to learn as much as they can about Neve Dekalim and what was once a wonderful and thriving place. Shifra’s book is a celebration of her community.
I was fortunate to have chance to ask Shifra some questions. I asked Shifra what she would most remember about Neve Dekalim. She answered: “The houses, the gardens, the brick sidewalks, the sand dunes, the view of the sea in fair weather and storms, the sunsets and sunrises, the rain water rushing past our house, flowing down the hill, the fresh air.”
I started thinking, how could anyone get over this kind of loss?
Could I? Could you?

Elimelech & other readers can be heard at: Readers Discuss the Book Grains Of Sand: The Fall Of Neve Dekalim -- Part 2: -- Part 1:

(For a copy of the book, go to the author’s website for a list of bookstores: Or contact Mazo Publishers; also a Literature Study Guide is available for the book for free downloading. For more information, contact the publicist at

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