The Federman family might be described as ‘controversial.’ Noam and Elisheva have a long history of right-wing activism, working day and night for a continued, strong Jewish presence throughout Eretz Yisrael. As a result of their continued successful action, they have found themselves the target of numerous indictments and trials. Noam has spent many days and nights behind bars. However, this has never deterred them from continuing in the direction they believe in.
They aren’t people who just talk. They also do. They built a beautiful home in Kiryat Arba, only to have it plowed down in the middle of the night, back in 2008, losing almost all their belongings, transformed into rubble by bulldozers.
Last week I visited their ‘new home’ with a mutual friend from the US. What can I say? Their dedication knows no bounds. Their former house was expansive. The present ‘house’ includes a kitchen-living room, with four small bedrooms. There are no doors in the house, allowing virtually no privacy in any of the rooms. Of their 11 children, 7 live with them at home. My estimate is that the house is maybe 40 sq. meters large. At most. Maybe smaller.
Photos: David Wilder
But they still have a large piece of property, including a horse and other farm animals, and a large trampoline, where the kids can bounce for hours at at time.
While sitting in the living room-kitchen, Elisheva told us of her daughter, Isca’s house, in the Shomron, Samaria region. Isca, a good friend of one of my daughters, married four months ago to Eliyasaf Oyerbach. Eliyasaf lived in Gush Katif, until being expelled almost seven years ago. He used money received as ‘damages’ from there, and built a new home at Havat Gilead, in the Shomron. This community, today home to thirty families, was founded in memory of Gilead Zar, security chief of the Samaria region, who was murdered by terrorists. The neighborhood is considered to be ‘illegal’ by state authorities, and his first home was bulldozed down.
However people like Eliyasaf don’t give up easily. All his money was gone. So he worked, and borrowed, and began constructing a new house. But Eliyasaf was missing something very important. A wife. He met Isca Federman, and after a short time, became engaged and four months ago, married. They utilized all their wedding gifts and finished building their new home, investing more than 100,000 NIS. It was something straight out of paradise. So Elisheva described it to us, a week ago.
Last Monday, at about three in the afternoon, when the house was empty, the young couple had visitors. According to police, the Arabs who arrived had one of two goals: either to commit a terror attack and kill, or to break in and steal. Finding the house vacant, they broke in, ransacked it, dumped everything on the floor, and set the place ablaze. Investigators later found three different areas where the fire had been set. Isca and Eliyasaf hurried home, only to find smoke pouring out of their palace.
Firefighters had been notified and quickly arrived, but it was too late. The house was destroyed, with just about everything inside it burned to a crisp. All their belongings, wedding presents, everything, gone. Due to Arab arson, described by the authorities as pure terror. The couple was told that the perpetrators would be found. As of yet, no arrests have been made.
Isca and Eliyasaf are now living in two broken-down buses at Havat Gilead.
I spoke with Isca, who I’ve known since she was a little girl, growing up in Hebron. I asked her whether she and her husband intended to stay at Havat Gildead and rebuild their house:
Isca: “Of course, we want to build a new house. It will cost a lot of money. We’ll need help, we can’t do it by ourselves.”
Isca: “We’ll never despair. This is our faith, our way of life. We must continue down the same path we’ve always known. We are not going anywhere.
What goes through your mind when you think of the possibility that you might have been home alone when the terrorists arrived?
Isca: “Sure, that’s a possibility. Maybe our new home won’t be as isolated as this one was, but that surely won’t scare us from building again. This is our land. We must continue living here. Look, I was at home when the police showed up and destroyed my home in Kiryat Arba. You know, it’s very hard, very hard, living through that, and now this. But we have to continue. We received a good education – never give up! We need, and have much strength, to keep us going. Our faith, our knowledge that this is the way, well, we are going to keep going, looking to the future. Our experiences from the past help us to deal with and overcome our present issues. For sure, no one is going to get us down, not the Arabs, no one!
You have friends, your age, getting married. If they asked your advise, should they come live like you, at Havat Gilead, or in a similar community, with your experience here, what would you say to them?
Isca: “That’s easy. I’d tell them that it’s great to wake up every morning, look outside, and see the magnificent view, the land of the Shomron. Seeing the land, being part of the land, planting trees, flowers, feeling at one Eretz Yisrael. Here we are really connected to our land, to our heritage, to our people. I’d encourage all my friends, anyone, to come join us here, to be at one, to unify, with our land. Living here, well, with all the problems, with all the obstacles, this is still our paradise. Don’t worry, we will overcome.
Living here is living a dream, a dream come true."
Photos: Isca Oyerbach with permission
Photos: Isca Oyerbach with permission