God, Israel, & Shiloh: Returning to the Land
By David Rubin
In the winter of 2001, David Rubin and his three-year-old son Reuven (“Ruby”) were driving on Patriarch’s Road from Jerusalem to their home in Shiloh, the route taken by Abraham and Sarah on their journey from Haran down into Egypt, when a hail of bullets suddenly sprayed into the car.
The car radio went dead, as did the car’s engine. I saw the sparks from what appeared to be four bullets zooming past me, as the car was slowly coasting down the hill. The bullets had tracers on them so they appeared as four orange sparks whizzing past, perhaps two inches in front of my eyes. Then I felt a terrible pain, like a concentrated ton of bricks crashing into my left leg, and the blood started gushing out fiercely, like an open fire hydrant.
Remembering his toddler strapped into his car seat, Rubin frantically checked to see if he was hurt. Eyes and mouth wide open, Ruby appeared to be okay but possibly in a state of shock. It was only later that the medics discovered a bullet in the base of Ruby’s brain.
I quickly tried to start the ignition, but with no success. … the terrorists were still shooting. … Finally, on the fourth or fifth attempt, the car started, and it started smoothly, as if there had never been a problem. An obvious miracle.
Rubin raced toward Ofrah, a nearby Jewish community, well aware that he could collapse from loss of blood at any moment. Swinging into the security guard station, he managed to lower the window and shout, “Ambulance!” One of the gas station attendants nearby ran to the car shouting, “I’m a medic!” He ripped off David’s shirt and proceeded to affix a tourniquet to his leg. Yet another miracle.
Rubin tells of his and Ruby’s traumatic experience in his powerful new book entitled God, Israel, & Shiloh: Returning to the Land. (Rubin and his son have since both fully recovered.) But the attack is only one part of a larger story that Rubin tells in this important book: the story of Shiloh. Written from the perspective of a pioneer, the book details Rubin’s love affair with Shiloh, the ancient city that was home to the Tabernacle for 369 years.
When Rubin first moved to Shiloh in 1992, he lived in a caravan-trailer in “the heart of the Land of God.” Later, with his new wife, Lisa, he gave himself over to community work, becoming the volunteer mayor of the city.
Rubin spends much time in his book tracing Biblical and contemporary Jewish history in order to convey the significance and the sacredness of Shiloh. Chronicling the return of the Jews to their ancestral land, Rubin recalls the victory of the Six Day War.
While the United Nations condemned Israel … many Bible-literate people from around the world were ecstatic, as the victory was rightly viewed as at least a partial fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the return of Israel to its Biblical heartland.
Rubin describes how the modern Jewish city of Shiloh was established. In January 1978, eight courageous religious families founded the new city, enduring enormous hardships while living on the isolated, barren hills.
Relying upon a noisy generator for electricity, the early settlers lived in tents and caravans without running water. Despite their difficulties, they felt privileged to be returning to the Biblical heartland. “Shiloh,” Rubin writes, “had been waiting for its children to return home for close to two thousand years.” Today, nearly a thousand families live among the towns and numerous hilltop neighborhoods that comprise the Shiloh bloc.
Rubin’s greatest pleasure is simply walking up and down the ancient boulders in Shiloh and exploring the hills and the city’s past with his children and visitors.
“In the Talmud,” writes Rubin, “there are three things that are acquired through great suffering: Torah, the Land of Israel and the World to Come.”
To Rubin and the other courageous pioneers like him, some things are worth suffering for.
Ann Johnson is the author of A United Jerusalem: the Story of Ateret Cohanim (New Jersey, 1992). She has written several articles for Jewish Action.