May 19, 2023.  ‘Auja. Text by David Shulman

Photograph: Margaret Olin, 2022

Dawn. Several children still asleep in their blankets, on the ground outside the house. Good desert smells. The older girls are beginning their chores: water has to be brought from the tanker; milk is being churned, or perhaps pasteurized, in what could be a repurposed washing-machine. There is a new baby, two months old, sleeping in her crib. Ghazal, maybe a year and a half old, holds a glass of tea in her hand while her eyes, obsidian black, study Yigal and me with unwavering interest. Then a smile.  Nadia asks if we’ve been well. Yigal answers with the blessing: “‘aishin min shafek,” “We come alive when we see you.”

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March 3, 2023. Hawara. Text: David Shulman; Photographs: Dood Evan

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Ephraim Moses Lilien, For the Martyrs of the Pogrom of Kishinev, 1903

April 6-8, 1903 (Julian calendar), Kishinev, Bessarabia: A mob, led partly by Orthodox Russian priests, descends upon the town, killing 49 Jews, wounding scores more, raping many Jewish women, burning down Jewish homes. The local police stand by, watching, making no attempt to stop the massacre. Some of the Jewish men fight back with the meager tools in their possession. Children see their parents murdered before their eyes. Shock waves engulf the Jewish communities of eastern Europe and beyond. In response, many Jewish young men join the anti-Czarist revolutionaries; others leave for Palestine to build a new life for the Jews. Bialik, the national Hebrew poet, writes an epic poem on the massacre.

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Muarrajat, January 20, 2023. Text: David Shulman

‘Auja, May, 2022. Photograph: Margaret Olin

Umm Rashid, the most intrepid of the ‘Auja shepherdesses, has sold off most of her sheep and goats. I don’t have all the details; a close friend of hers sold her herd a few months earlier. I assume she couldn’t take any more of the ceaseless harassment, beatings, and threats from the settlers. But I don’t think this is the end of the story.

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