On the top of a hill, at the edge of the desert that stretches from Ramallah to Jericho, Gedalia is building an outer wall of tyres and mud around his house, because winter will be coming soon. So too will his seventh child, who will be born in this mosaic of plywood, plastic, and metal sheeting in Mitzpe Hagit, an illegal Israeli outpost. Here, the cost of living is low – the Israeli government and society help in various ways the families who settle in the West Bank – and although there may sometimes be complication, in this frontier land, Gedalia feels free to lead the simple, religious, conflict-free existence that he has imagined for himself and his family.
The Goldburts are a family of ultra-Orthodox American Jews. They are part of the Na-Nach movement, a subgroup of Breslover Hasidim born in the 1970s by a group of American Jewish “reborn” to religion.
Inspired by the Zionism from the beginning of last century, Gedalia and Shira are bound to the land more than to money and would like to live outside the laws of the markets and of society, and follow solely religious precepts. For some years they have been moving a lot around Israel in search of a piece of land on which to start a farm, and in the end they chose to move to this small illegal Israeli outpost in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, joining – for advantage and convenience – a “human avant-garde” that is an essential tool for the development and operation of the colonial mechanism.
In this context of expropriation, Gedalia feels free to build his home and to try to fulfil his dream: a simple life, in harmony with God, outside the laws and duties of society.
Life is but a dream is the story of the daily life of a settler’s family, between contradictions, radical choices, difficulties, needs, and possible fears.