Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, David Walk and a panorama of new construction in Efrat.
direct to Jerusalem via Gilo — and
bypassing the Arab villages and
refugee camp — will be built shortly.
"And we're developing an industrial
park. We've just hired a youth direc-
tor and we will build an old-age home.
My dream is to start a day care center
and attach it to the workplace!'
The intifada has spoiled the good
relations Efrat has built with its Arab
neighbors. While Efrat supplies a
nearby village with water and access
roads in return for workers, mostly in
construction, Rabbi Riskin said the
village's muktar (head) is in the pro-
cess of being deposed because of the
relations maintained with Efrat.
"The extremists are taking over,"
Despite Efrat's ambitious build-
ing plans and presence on land that
some would exchange for the promise
of peace, Rabbi Riskin is ready to
"Yes, I believe in the prospect of
land for peace. Does it have halachic
possibilities? Yes. I think there can be
a Palestinian state," he said. "We
should talk to everybody and anybody
and try to find a way to live in peace.
"Jews have a right to live all over
the land of Israel and settlers had
every right to build their set-
tlements," he added. "But I don't
believe all Judea and Samaria should
be lumped together. This area was
Jewish in the 1930s and 1940s and
people were massacred here in 1948.
It is consensus territory. It was
Jewish, not Arab!'
Rabbi Riskin's position places him
at odds with a newer settlement,
Thkoa, which does not fall within the
approximate 1948 geographical boun-
daries of Gush Etsion but is included
in the region's administrative body.
"I am not a settler. I am a citizen,"
he said. "I am not occupying one inch
of Arab territory. We didn't touch a
grape. I made aliyah to Israel because
of its ancient history and the oppor-
tunity to direct a •community
religiously and educationally, not
because I wanted to be in Judea or
As long as the area retains ties
with Israel, Rabbi Riskin will con-
tinue building Efrat.
"We would stay if there was an
Israeli-Palestinian consortium," he
said. "But we would leave if the area
were part of a Palestinian state!'
zvi Lando's path to Tekoa in-
cluded stops in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, and Kfar Blum, a
non-religious Upper Galilee kibbutz.
But Lando, a councilman for Tekoa
and a five-year resident, has found his
home on the fringes of the Judean
desert, almost directly beneath Hero-
dian and isolated from the rest of
"The Gush" by increasingly hostile
The 10-year-old settlement, found-
ed by Russian immigrants and con-
sisting of almost 100 families, was
still basking in the warm glow of the
media spotlight. The previous day, at
the settlement's invitation, a busload
of evangelist Jimmy Swaggert's
followers, on tour throughout Israel,
added Tekoa to their itinerary as an
example of Jewish efforts to reclaim
the land of Israel.
The settlers are a mix of Orthodox
and secular, according to Arthur
Sherman, a seven-year resident and
native of Brooklyn. While some wear
skullcaps and fringed undergar-
ments, others don't but still consider
themselves Orthodox. Sherman said
that using riding on the Sabbath as
a yardstick, about 60 percent are
Tekoa has already carved a niche
in the computer field as creator of
educational software and sponsored a
booth at the Coalition for the Ad-
vancement of Jewish Education's an-
nual conference, where more than
1,800 educators from North America,
Europe and Isr4e1 gathered in early
August. The settlement also develops
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 83