Cover Story

Women Bridging the Gap


After the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005, most of the residents of Atzmona were relocated by the Israeli government to what used to be Kibbutz Shomria, located in the northeast Negev. There had been only eleven families left in the original kibbutz, and they were compensated and relocated. Technically, Shomria is still called a “kibbutz.” They have a cowshed, olive grove, vineyard and fields in which they grow other things, but daily life is more similar to a yishuv kehilati, a community village. Our daughter Naama’s family, who had lived in Atzmona, was among those who relocated to Shomria.

Shomria is a deeply religious community. The families who settle there, just as in the original Atzmona, agree that there will be no televisions or secular newspapers in their homes. Most of the men are graduates of yeshivot; they also go to the army, and many of them, including Naama’s husband, are officers. Their neighbor, Col. Jonathan Steinberg, forty-two, commander of the Nahal Brigade, was one of the first soldiers to fall in battle on the black Shabbat of Simchat Torah.

In the week the war began, soldiers were stationed at Kibbutz Dvir, about a ten-minute drive from Shomria. The women of the kibbutz, which is a member of the secular Hashomer Hatzair movement, contacted the women of Shomria and asked for their help in preparing meals for the soldiers, as some of their kitchens aren’t kosher. Together the women created a WhatsApp group to help organize the project.

Naama describes how supportive they were of each other, with total collaboration for the benefit of the soldiers.

She shared with me what one of the women of Dvir wrote to her in the midst of things:

In the place the soldiers are sleeping in, there is a safe room, and we took care of [providing] mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets and are helping with the laundry. The building also has a house of prayer [shul] and we made the connection with the person in Dvir who is responsible for it, and he opened it so the soldiers could use it.We are not happy that these are the circumstances, but we are happy to be able to work together in friendship.

And later, in the wake of the successful partnership, she wrote:

Dear women and men in this group, I want to say a personal thank you to each and every one of you, from all of us. I also draw great strength from doing something active, something good that is under our control. In my mind’s eye, I imagine a great and festive evening when we will meet, after this cursed war ends, and we will further actualize this good neighborliness and shared humanity. It gives me hope. A personal thank you for an island of sanity during these difficult days. —Hagar

To which Naama replied:

What you wrote is so moving, Hagar. There is no doubt that this war gave birth to a new level of love and connection and a feeling of shared responsibility between all parts of our people. May we know how to continue to grow from this, with G-d’s help, and may we only hear good tidings from now on! —Naama

“Dvir” is one of the names of the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. May this sisterly love be a foreshadowing of the love in Am Yisrael that will herald the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our day.


Toby Klein Greenwald, a regular contributor to Jewish Action, is a journalist, playwright, poet and teacher and the artistic director of a number of theater companies. She is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Atara—the Association for Torah and the Arts.


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This article was featured in the Winter 2023 issue of Jewish Action.
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