They also have memories of how that vineyard was almost destroyed shortly after the planting. One Friday morning in August, carloads of Arabs came to the fields to burn the plants and cut the pipes. Arab reporters and cameramen came with. Evidently they wanted a story on Arab land being stolen by Jewish settlers. That land belonged to Shilo, though, and before the grapes were planted it had been barren of anything save rocks and thorns.
It was not only the manager, the foreman, and his assistant who came to protect the grapes, but most of the men from Shilo. They received the alarm while at a circumcision ceremony. Without a second thought they rushed to their cars and raced down to the vineyards where they engaged in hand-to-hand combat to save the grapes.
As the men struggled to defend the land, thirteen-year-old Yitzhak gathered a group of younger boys. Together they recited Psalms as they overlooked the site of the struggle. Apparently those prayers helped because the confrontation did not escalate into a full riot and all of our men returned without any serious injuries.
Tu B’Av is the fifteenth day of the summer month of Av. It is six days after Tisha B’Av, the day we mourn the destruction of our first and second Holy Temples. Less than a week apart on the calendar, they are eons apart in spirit, as Tu B’Av is a joyous day.
He and his family returned to Shilo following the funeral and began observing their week of mourning. A Tu B’Av festival was definitely not appropriate, but not everything could be cancelled. The wedding planned in Shilo for the following evening would be held. So would the Chilul HaKerem that was to serve as a backdrop for the introduction to the wedding ceremony.
Many of us gathered in the vineyard to honour the bride and groom. Men and boys escorted the young man around one side of the vineyard. I joined the women to escort the bride on the other side. The little girls wore garlands in their hair and danced in front of the bride who was enthroned on the cart pulled by a tractor. The women followed, but we were not able to move as merrily. The rocky, mountain terrain full of thorns made dancing difficult. I was not the only one to make the connection between the walk we were taking then and the one we had made the day before. First to a funeral and then to a wedding. It might be trite, but it is true that life goes on.
And the grapes continue to grow, as do the children. Five years passed and it was time to harvest the grapes. One of the owners had advertised for help. Several of my children went to make some money. My husband and I went to help out for a bit.
I looked at these workers, young and old, religious and not, immigrants and native born. This was unity and I felt joy.
We have rebuilt homes. We have had our dancing and celebrations. Vineyards have been planted and redeemed. May the watchman come and herald the coming of the time of our redemption and true peace.
Like the branches of grape vines lives become very intertwined when living in a small community. Sorrows and tragedies are shared, but on the flip side so are joys and happiness. One of the joys of living in Shilo, a village of almost three hundred families located in the heart of Israel, has been watching the community and the children grow and mature.