Moriyah Ta'asan-Michaeli
Moriyah Ta'asan... Moriyah has 1 husband, 2 degrees and 3 children. Feminist, settler, mother, lives in Givat Harel Wednesday 30.12.15 No comments 2297 views

Mountain Woman

I’m Moriya. Like everyone, I am a lot of things simultaneously. I am a daughter, sister and granddaughter. I am the mother of three gorgeous, happy children and a wife. I am a Jew and a religious person. I am a feminist, I’m right wing and I’m still deliberating whether I am an especially liberal conservative or vice versa. And I’m also a settler. Some of my definitions were born along with me, while others I accumulated over the years. My title of ‘settler’ was created at the age of six, when my parents moved to the community of Ofra, and was reinforced when my husband and I also decided to live on the other side of the Hizme checkpoint. Five years in Ofra, and about a year now on a small hilltop opposite Shilo known as Givat Harel.

We’ve had many opportunities to think about this decision, and being given this platform to write, I’d like to think some of those thoughts out loud.

Settler – so much is crammed into one little word. There are those who see it as idealistic, and those who see it as a quality of life choice. There are those who see it as stupidity, and those who see it as a heroic act. The reality, as usual, is a little bit of all of these.

Tchernichovsky said that man is but the imprint of his native landscape. What does that say about us, the people of the mountain, the people of the stones? Who make their home at the summit of a tall mountain? Saturday afternoon strolls pushing a smoothly rolling baby carriage, alongside a toddler racing down the flat sidewalk on a toy car? No, we can’t do that over here. Any way we turn, we have two options: downhill now and uphill later, or the opposite. The leg muscles are toned, pregnant women climb back up the hill from the kindergarten to their homes with extraordinary effort, and children speed on their bikes straight to the nurse’s room so she can bandage yet another forehead.

Winter isn’t easy either. Winds that knock down sheds and roofs, children buried under coats, hats and scarves to walk from the car into the daycare center, temperatures that dive down to the lower 10 digits and below zero too. Joy of joys! We have photos of snow to upload to the internet, but we aren’t always connected to the internet, or to anything else for that matter. The power lines that often disconnect because of blustering winds or simply due to high usage by air conditioners and heaters can cause a short power outage and freezing cold for just an hour, or days on end of repeated power outages that make your electrical appliances wonder why?! Why here on this mountain?

The roads? They have also made me the tough mountain woman that I am. Years of traveling as a girl glued to the window trying to locate the rock throwers have made me extremely alert while driving. When I was about ten years old, I feel asleep in the car as my mother and I were driving home from the big city, only to be suddenly awakened by the earsplitting crack of a rock that hit the window upon which I had been leaning. The car windows were rock-proof, but I cannot forget the shock. The years went by and rock throwers were replaced by terrorists armed with rifles and guns. I traveled to my driving lessons in constant fear of what might await me after the next bend in the road, or as per my parents’ instructions, in armored buses that could not be penetrated by bullets, air or light.

Years later, I began to travel with my sweet children in the back seat. Every new child that is born brings more fears, apprehension and infinite deliberation before every excursion out of the house. Eyes dart across the road and to both shoulders. Every car that slows down ahead of me is suspicious, and every car that speeds up behind me is twice as suspicious. The driver that lets me go around him is now reaching his arm toward the passenger seat – is he going to whip out a Kalashnikov or take a sip of his soft drink? Which car should we take, the rock-proof one or the spacious one? Should we take the shorter route, which is also more desolate and has a history of more terror attacks, or should we do the entire long detour just for the added peace of mind?

My teenage years? I could and should write a separate essay about them. About taking matriculation exams between funerals and growing up with bereavement in the air. About life when reality looks you straight in the eye before you’ve even decided if you’re mentally ready for it or not.

Yes, we are the people of the mountain. People who etched their blood on the boulders and actively choose this place, these stones, this life, every day. Because this is the land of Israel, because living here is right for us. But that’s not all.

Here, summer means cool nights that let you kick back and relax after a hot day. Every time I am in one of Israel’s central cities or a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley in the evening, I wonder how they get through a summer day without my 6:00PM, when I can go out to the closest playground and enjoy the crisp mountain air. Those ascents and descents I mentioned are dotted with beautiful trees and grass visited frequently by deer and ibex. The frightening nights with their imaginary (and not-imaginary) noises transform at sunrise into the tranquil, pleasant sounds of chirping birds and neighborly chatter on the way to the nearby kindergartens, just a short walk from home.

The atmosphere in the communities is incomparable. For better and for worse. Arguments and quarrels within the community are signs of the deep sentiments of each of the residents regarding the character of the community. Communal committees are fully staffed on a voluntary basis, by women and men who finish their day’s work, usually in a distant city, and make time to work on what is important to them here – education, culture, synagogue and more. Not everything is perfect; after all – mountain folk are tough people, but the intentions are always good. At least, I hope so.

So there’s fear and there’s giving up on comfort to an extent, but there’s also love and joy and choosing a different type of comfort. There’s a lot of faith and a tremendous amount of good intentions, and that’s why we’re here. That’s why I am a settler. Now I can speak about being a settler on the internet too, and I am happy to be part of this important platform. I hope that it will be used well and will reflect my life, thoughts and beliefs as they really are. I’m Moriya, nice to meet you. 

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