Is Gaza Jewish?
I had mixed feelings upon seeing the Jewish communities of Gaza and their 9,000 residents being uprooted in 2005. There was the hope of an improved security situation, but on the other hand it seems wrong to declare a region "Judenrein." Anyway this all left me wondering if Gaza is really part of Jewish history?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
The Jewish community of Kfar Darom in Gaza was established on the site of the 3rd century Jewish town of Kfar Darom. (The Talmudic tractate Sotah refers to the sage Eliezer the son of Yitzhak of Kfar Darom.) At the end of the 19th century, the land of Kfar Darom was acquired by Tuvia Miller of Rechovot, who transformed swamps into a blossoming orchard. Yet the Arabs destroyed the orchard and its well during the anti-Jewish riots of 1936-39.
The Jewish presence in Kfar Darom was renewed in October 1946 along with 10 other communities, as a response to the British attempt to disengage the future Jewish state from the Negev. The village was evacuated following the Egyptian siege of 1948/9, but became the first Jewish community to be rebuilt in Gaza following the 1967 Six Day War.
The biblical status of Gaza – as regards to produce tithing and Sabbatical year -- is a dispute between "Radvaz" and "Maharit" – the former considers it part of biblical Israel, while the latter does not. In practice, nowadays, we consider Gaza as part of Israel proper for these purposes.
(sources: "Tzitz Eliezer" VII 48:12; "Derech Emunah" by R' Ch. Kanevsky, II Laws of Terumah I; "Biur H'Halacha s.v. "M'Ashkelon")