In the presence of dozens of Land of Israel lovers, public figures, members of AFSI and family members, a special compound was dedicated this week at the Oz veGaon preserve in Gush Etzion in memory of Helen Freedman, obm, who was the chairwoman of AFSI and the source of inspiration and strength for the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.
The event, which was led by Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, took place at the completion of a year since Helen’s passing and to mark her activity of many years on behalf of Jewish hold on all parts of the Land of Israel and to promote the vision of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
The event opened with the screening of a film documenting Helen and her organization’s activists during one of their visits at Netzer in Gush Etzion in 2010, where a tree-planting event was held that escalated into a conflict with Arabs who came to the place to remove the people planting the seedlings.
In the film, Helen is seen planting seedlings together with the organization’s activists and encouraging them and the Women in Green activists to continue to cling to the soil of the Land of Israel despite the daily difficulty entailed in dealing with Arabs who want to take over territory that does not belong to them.
In their welcoming remarks, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar highlighted Freedman’s special actions and spirit, saying that “her name was a synonym for action. When she came to the Land of Israel, her schedule was loaded; she would run from a town to a new outpost, from an agricultural farm to south Tel Aviv, always in action. She was motivated by her great love for the Land of Israel. Her heart and her entire being were totally involved with the Land of Israel”.
Katsover and Matar also mentioned Freedman’s work in the U.S. on behalf of the settlement enterprise in the Land of Israel, the dozens of groups that she organized and led in visits throughout the Land of Israel, the demonstrations and protests that she led acriss the White House on behalf of Judea and Samaria.
“She had a Land of Israel soul. A person is born to a mission - Helen knew what her mission was and fulfilled it totally”.
Katsover and Matar also told of the strong connection between the late Helen Freedman and the vision of sovereignty that they have been leading for the past decade: “Helen was the first one that we spoke with about sovereignty and about the need to found a sovereignty movement. We met with her in a hotel in Jerusalem at the end of 2010. Helen listened very attentively and immediately understood the importance of the matter and promoted the idea of sovereignty boldly and proudly. Even for the visit that she organized after that discussion, every member of AFSI already had sovereignty T-shirts”.
The choice to hold the commemoration at the Oz veGaon preserve was natural, say Katsover and Matar, since the place is a symbol of clinging to the Land and an expression of the People of Israel’s love for it, which has a direct connection to the weekly Torah portion.
They said: “Helen heard the same call that our father Abraham heard, to go, to move, to search and to go forward, and indeed, we saw that Helen was constantly moving, progressing and exercising influence – like a perfume, which, when standing still its aroma cannot be felt, but when waved, it spreads its scent. This is how Helen spread her love and care for the Land of Israel and the People of Israel”.
The spokesman of the Jewish community in Hevron, Noam Arnon, also made remarks at the event, emphasizing Helen’s different kind of spirit and her special personality.
Middle East expert Moti Kedar spoke about the vital lessons for the People of Israel in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, about the significance of tribalism in Arab society, about the culture of jihad and the appropriate way to regard the Arab threats to destroy the State of Israel.
Helen’s daughter, Judy Kadish, who continues her mother’s activism, told of the exciting and special moment when she came for a visit to Israel and felt that the entire Jewish People are her brothers and sisters in a large extended family.
This sense of one family, she said, was the spirit that moved her to act on behalf of the People and the Land.
There were various other public figures who made commemorative remarks on Helen’s personality and work, among whom were Leon Szmedra, long-time Afsi activist, Mina Fenton, Jeff Daube, Bina Tenenbaum, Akiva Cohen from Yitzhar and others.