Amidst the wave of terror that has gripped Israel since October, two leaders of settlement communities in the West Bank will speak to the Toronto Jewish community about the history of their respective Israeli settlements, as well as how Israelis are coping with the constant threat of violence and terrorism.
On Nov. 29, Daniella Weiss, who served 15 years as the mayor of Kedumim, a West Bank settlement, and led the 10 families who founded the first Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria 40 years ago, will address the Toronto Jewish community at Shaarei Shomayim synagogue.
Weiss, a controversial figure who was arrested in 2008 after a confrontation in Hebron that ended with her being charged for obstructing police officers, is the general secretary of the Nachala settlement movement.
Joining her in Toronto is the mayor of Kiryat Arba/Hebron, Malachi Levinger, the son of the late Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who was one of the founders of the settlement movement following the Six Day War in 1967.
Rabbi Levinger, a student of religious Zionist leader Rabbi Tzvi HaCohen Yehuda Kook, was one of the founders of the Kiryat Arba settlement, and is credited for the return of the Jews to Hebron.
His son, Malachi, told The CJN that when he comes to Toronto, he wants to talk about the settlements in Judea and Samaria, “how my father started the settlements in Yehuda and Shomron… I want to speak about the beit midrash from Rav Yehuda Kook, from where my father learned about Eretz Yisrael and about all the land in Eretz Yisrael.”
Since the establishment of Kiryat Arba in the early 1970s, Levinger said there are about 600 Jews who reside in the Jewish quarter in the old city of Hebron, which Levinger compared to the size of a city block in Toronto.
“I want people in Toronto to hear about the big spirit in the settlements, that people want to do everything to connect the Jewish story in Hebron,” he said.
Levinger, who said his trip to North America will be a short one because “it is not a good time to be for a long time out of Israel,” spoke about the recent and ongoing violence facing his community and the rest of his country.
When he spoke to The CJN in early November, he said his community was experiencing a three-day stretch of quiet.
“Three days of quiet for us is a long time this month,” he said, adding that despite the terror attacks, “Baruch HaShem, people are still coming to visit.”
As the mayor of a town that has been experiencing a number of terror attacks in the past few weeks, Levinger can only offer the members of his community encouragement and a word of caution.
“What I am talking about to the people of Kiryat Arba is that you should still live normally, but keep safe when you go on the road, when you go visit another area,” he said.
Some of the recent attacks that have either injured or killed Israelis in or near his town include an Oct. 8 incident in which a 25-year-old man was stabbed in the upper body by a Palestinian. On Oct. 20, a man was driving through Hebron when his car was pelted by a hail of rocks. When he exited his car, he was hit by a truck driven by a Palestinian and killed. Days later, a Palestinian stabbed a 19-year-old soldier multiple times in the neck near the Kiryat Arba settlement.
Levinger said people are fearful, but, especially after the few days of quiet that they enjoyed, people go about their day.
When asked if he saw an end to the recent wave of terror in the near future, he said, “I hope so. I don’t know and the army doesn’t know. We hope it will be quiet, because we want to live normally in Kiryat Arba/Hebron and we want the people who don’t want to visit us to come and visit us and not be afraid.”