In the Schlissel's living room

A Hebron family braces for the future, considers the past, and are determined to keep their house.

hebronsettler 298 88 (photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron)
hebronsettler 298 88
(photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron)
Hebron resident Tzippi Schlissel is no stranger to conflict. Her father, Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron's Tel Rumeida neighborhood in 1998. A great-granddaughter of Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook, Schlissel lived at the time in Charasha in an outpost of trailers overlooking Ramallah. Following her father's murder, Schlissel's husband, Rabbi Yisrael Schlissel, was asked to teach in a kollel in his father-in-law's memory in Hebron. With the outbreak of the second intifada, the Schlissels decided that the commute from the Binyamin area to Hebron had become too time-consuming. They moved to Hebron, closer to Schlissel's mother, who had been living alone since her husband's murder. On Tuesday morning, security forces arrived at Schlissel's house in Mitzpe Shalhevet with evacuation orders. The family was waiting - the children had stayed home from school and were ready when the police came. Schlissel herself was dragged by a police officer as she blocked the way to her house, her youngest child in her arms. The family has been living in their house in the market for four years, after arriving during Hannuka 2001. Schlissel recalled the early days, when the Jewish community told them that they would find them a home. "People were arrested over building this house," she said. "The police would come every day to check and see if they were building here." According to Schlissel, many more families are waiting to move to Hebron than the community can accommodate with limited space and permits hard - if not entirely impossible - to acquire. "I thought at the beginning that I was going to live in this strong house," said Schlissel's eight-year-old son, who lived in a trailer until the age of four. "But now I hear that they're going to destroy my house. What can I do?" Later on, he answers his own question, saying: "If anybody comes to take me away, I'll take him on." Schlissel sits in the living room of her house, rising occasionally to care for one of her children. Neighbors and neighbors' children open the front door to the house from time to time. Shmuel runs in to ask if they can put an antievacuation bumper sticker on the door. Older son Chaim comes in a few minutes later, visibly upset. "Acid!," he scowls, indignant. "They said on the news that we spilled acid on the soldiers. Why did they say that? We didn't use acid!" As the interview continues, Schlissel's children participate in the discussion. "This is a lifestyle that you fight for, where you know that your goal is to settle the Land of Israel and you're fighting for that all the time. There is so much to do, there are so many things that you want to fix. And you try to do as much as you can," says 14-year-old Bitya. Many of Schlissel's children participated in the protests this summer against the pullout from Gush Katif, although Schlissel's husband insisted that she stay put, as she was pregnant with her youngest child. Schlissel is certain that, unlike in Gush Katif, the residents of Hebron won't allow her house to be evacuated quietly. She is considering the possibility of keeping her children home from school, so that they can remain on stand-by if the security forces come again. "They need to know that we are not afraid of them and we will continue to struggle even if our own blood is spilled," Schlissel said. "There won't be a rabbi here who says, 'Come out,' and we'll all come out quietly, with tears in our eyes, and everybody will say, 'Oh, how unfortunate.' It won't happen like that here." In almost the same breath, though, she expresses her hope that the government will "come to their senses." "I tried to think of what I could say to make people understand what I am going through, and so finally I said, 'Think if I wore a veil and a gown and I was an Arab woman and said, 'They're trying to kick me and my 10 children out of my house.' Then everyone would feel bad for me."