(photo credit: Matthew Wagner)
Yitzhak Tzaig raised the green fabric up over his head and stretched it across the wooden frame against the evening wind while his son Chanan deftly nailed it down.
"The succa symbolizes temporality as opposed to continuity," said Yitzhak, looking over his up-stretched shoulder. "But we've been living in temporary housing since we were expelled, so we should be exempt from building a succa."
This is the second Succot that the Tzaig family and 1,676 other evicted families have celebrated since disengagement. Like the Tzaigs, the vast majority of families removed from Gush Katif have not received permanent housing. And like the Tzaigs, the vast majority will build a succa.
"This is the same fabric we used to build our succa in Ganei Tal," said Yitzhak, in his 50s, a farmer who has been unemployed since disengagement. "I had to cut it in half because it is too big for this succa."
In Ganei Tal, Yitzhak worked 15 dunam of greenhouses, where he grew peppers and insect-free lettuce.
"Now I'm learning marketing. I hope to sell furniture," he said.
All of Ganei Tal's 80 families, including the Tzaigs, are being housed in small, neat prefabs in Yad Binyamin, a moshav about halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon, until they receive their permanent homes adjacent to Kibbutz Chafetz Haim.
But some evacuees have already found a permanent home in Yad Binyamin. Over 100 families connected to Rabbi Shmuel Tal's Torat Haim Yeshiva plan to settle down in the moshav.
Evacuees from Neveh Dekalim, Tal's students, with their large, knitted kippot, long side locks and beards refused to talk to The Jerusalem Post on the record.
"We've had bad experiences with the news media," said one of the students. "People at Ganei Tal will help you."
Tal's students have conspiracy theories about how a partial media helped the Sharon government complete the disengagement. For them, cooperating with the media is tantamount to cooperating with the forces of evil.
Tal and his followers represent a more purist approach to serving God in the Land of Israel, which has gained popularity since disengagement.
Unlike mainstream religious Zionists who cooperate with and support Israel's secular institutions, Tal's students are more cautious about cooperation with the secular state.
For instance, in Tal's yeshiva, unlike hesder yeshivot, IDF service is not mandatory. Tal's students are concerned about maintaining a very strict adherence to Jewish law in the army.
Whether it is kosher food or contact with female soldiers, Tal's students, like haredim, are wary of the IDF.
Many postpone service for a few years until they are married. Others join Nachal Haredi, a special program that adheres to all the stringencies of the haredim.
But unlike haredim, Tal's students believe that through their own efforts they can bring about the redemption of the Jewish people. They see themselves in the midst of a battle for the hearts and minds of Israelis who are still searching for truth. Tal's students teach Torah at the local secular elementary school and at neighboring settlements in an attempt to disseminate holy ideals.
In addition to the yeshiva students and former residents of Ganei Tal, Yad Binyamin is also home to fragments of Gaza settlements such as Gadid, Gan Or, Atzmona, Neveh Dekalim and Katif.
But the vast majority of evacuees at Yad Binyamin are either from the yeshiva or from Ganei Tal.
"This is not where I want to be," said Rivka Goldschmidt, an English teacher who lived in Ganei Tal for 28 years before the expulsion. "But the Torah commands us to be happy. And that's what I am going to be this Succot."