HERE IS A SHEPHERD MEANDERING IN THE HILLS OF YERUSHALAYIM
“I felt like there was something missing,” said Herzlich as he looked out at his flock of over 150 animals chewing on the leaves of oak trees outside the northern West Bank village he now calls home. “I didn’t know exactly what it was at the time, but I decided to travel to Europe in an effort to ‘find myself’ as they say.” […]
From Kfar Zeitim to Kfar Tapuah
At the age of 23, Herzlich purchased a ticket to Israel. “But not a plane ticket,” he clarified. “In a plane, you go so quickly, you don’t even see what’s below. But by boat you get a chance to take it all in.”
Herzlich docked in Haifa and made his way to Jerusalem where he learned Hebrew. For the new immigrant whose roots grew out of Eastern Europe, religion was still not of the utmost interest. But upon peeking into a Yemenite synagogue in the country’s capital, he was immediately moved by the sounds he heard.
“I felt like I was taken back to my roots,” he said unironically. “Jews from Yemen preserved the holy tongue.”
Herzlich again began to sing. This time a verse from the Bible’s Exodus story, but with a Yemenite tune. His accent told the tale of his journey across the globe. The “r” sounds were uttered with a heavy American accent, yet he pronounced the Hebrew letters of “het” and “ayin” like a Sanaa native.
His infatuation with Yemenite traditions led him to a small community in Rosh Ha’ayin, in the center of Israel. There, he enrolled in a yeshiva to study religious texts. Due to his minimal Jewish literacy, however, he was placed in a second grade class.
Seemingly unbothered, Herzlich glowed as he shared what he had learned along with his younger classmates. “I began to read Torah, but this time in the way that it was supposed to be read. The power of the message was transferred without a hint of disbelief,” he explained.
“I learned how our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were shepherds,” Herzlich said, finally answering the original question. “If that gave them the ability to be close to God, why shouldn’t I do that too? Because it’s the 20th century?”
In March 2000 — two years after moving to the West Bank — his daughter and son-in-law were gunned down by Palestinian terrorists outside of the Ofra settlement.
[…] “I was out with the flock when my son Shmuel called and told me that Binyamin was killed.” He said referring to his son-in-law and son of Jewish radical Meir Kahane.
“He then called back five minutes later and told me that Talia was killed as well.”
“She had a child that was two months old,” Herzlich said as his voice cracked. “She does not even remember her mother!”
“I understood almost immediately that when you get hit you’ve got to take it, and not rebel,” he said nodding.
[…] But beyond the murders that orphaned six of his grandchildren, Herzlich also blames Palestinians for the theft of over 400 of his livestock. “If the Arabs weren’t here my life would be so much easier,” he said. “But that’s the way God wants it — for us to be under pressure — which is good.”
“Mr. Prime Minister, we cannot continue this process of urbanization. City life destroys the individual and the family. It prevents us from protecting the holy land,” he said sternly, as if Netanyahu was right in front of him. Herzlich argued that all Israelis should join him in the mountains of the West Bank.
“Population concentration is the destruction of Israel. We have created, in cities like Tel Aviv, modern-day concentration camps! These mountains of Ephraim (the northern West Bank) are endless. People could move their families here and have their kids run around in clean air.”
“I do believe that what’s happening in the world, God wants it to happen to bring the redemption.”
Source: Thank you TimesofIsrael for covering this story. While preparing my post of 11/29 about Evicted Shepherds… I added a video of Avraham. I was searching for more information on him, but couldn’t find it. That is until now 12/1 at the Times of Israel website. Thank you for providing the written background info I was searching for.