It’s Day 4 of an opportunity to learn about Israel while spending time with friends from the Atlanta Jewish Community.
What an opportunity!! What an honor!! What a privilege to become more connected to Israel and to friends in the Atlanta Jewish Community.
The day begins with an outstanding Israeli breakfast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. As I peer out looking at this tranquil, calming body of water, I can only hope and pray that Israel’s future is one of tranquility and peace. So what will we learn and experience with Atlanta friends on Day 4 of this incredible experience?
Atlit Detainee Camp
Our first stop, the Atlit detainee camp. A detainee camp in Israel! Why and for what purpose? After
experiencing Auschwitz, this was especially confusion. What we learned is the Atlit detainee camp was established by the British in the 1930s and was surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers. Many of the detainees during the 1930s and 1940s were Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Europe. In the late 1940s, most were Holocaust survivors. The British authorities, acceding to Arab demands to limit Jewish immigration, refused to allow them to enter the country. At Atlit camp, the men were sent to one side, women the other. They were sprayed with DDT, then told to undress and enter the showers. Tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants were interned here, men and women separated by barbed wire. Back on the bus to the next stop – Yemin Orde Youth Village – as I sit on the bus, I ask the question (to myself) – How in the world does the State of Israel have a detainee camp but have the tranquility of the Mediterranean Sea?
Yemin Orde Youth Village
We visited this youth village in the mountain of Carmel where we heard from the Director, Shmulee, of the amazing things they are doing with kids from troubled homes. The Village is a home, school, and safe haven for over 400 teenagers from around the world. The successful Village Way methodology has been modeled all over the world. Atlanta Jewish Federation has a strong partnership with this Village. We were welcomed by Racheli, the director for visitors and met with Susan who told us more how this Village develop self-esteem and leadership skills for the kids in this community. We had lunch with the kids and were able to talk with some of the children who benefit from this very special place.
Salem Magav (Border Police) Base
As we approach the border of the West Bank, a feeling of uneasiness settles in – especially after hearing that some of the soldiers are on a mission in Ramallah. Just 100 or so yards from the fence (Green Line), we see activity in Zone A – just beyond the green line – one individual walking close to the fence, a taxi driving closer to the border fence. This is an active area where our soldiers confront danger and threats every day. Interacting with soldiers was so interesting and we learned about the important job of protecting the State of Israel. Our tour of the base consisted of meeting with the border police, visiting the synagogue on the grounds of the base and learning from Abraham about the geopolitical history of Israel – soooo complex and so many questions. Very difficult to summarize as so complex and so many facets to this geopolitical environment. One thing I know, the State of Israel will not let this geopolitical conflict define themselves (ourselves) and Israeli society will continue to prosper and seek tranquility (like the Mediterranean Sea) within and outside the borders of the State of Israel.
After a happy hour hosted by Justine at our kibbutz (which we continued after dinner), we headed to dinner at Makom B’sejera. In 1890, a group of young pioneers came here and began the settlement of Sejera in this exact place. It eventually became the home for many pioneers of the Second Aliya, one of whom was David Ben-Gurion. This place was the home of many “firsts”, including the Shomer (Jewish Watchmen’s Organization) and equal rights for working women and the idea of a “collective” , the forerunner of the kibbutz. Farm to table is an understatement. Everything we ate was grown there. We literally walk through chicken coups which no doubt will be dinner for someone here. Don’t think the food we ate family style could have been any fresher. We had the place to ourselves (there was actually one other couple there who I kind of a felt sorry fo)r and ate delicious hummus, moshava salad, goat, pheasant, filet and maybe we had a little wine.
Abraham, who taught us a lot abut the geopolitical history of Israel, told us the conflict here does not define the State of Israel as it does for their neighbors and that Israelis feel they live in paradise and, in fact, they really do.
From a detainee camp to a youth village to meeting brave soldiers protecting the borders of Israel to a wonderful evening with great friends – WHAT A DAY!!!! So many emotions to confusion, to compassion, to bravery, to happiness and laughter. This wonderful country has some many intriguing stories – individually – make Israel a special home for all Jews!!!!!!