Monday, November 14, 2011
The summer of 1974 — Naomi meets Marc
I had just turned 18, and for me, this trip to Israel was my first time traveling alone, any farther than Minneapolis, Omaha or Kansas City. Marc of course was much older and wiser and had already managed to finish University and travel through Europe, by the time he arrived. By the end of the six month Ulpan (intensive Hebrew language program), Marc and I were quite sure of two things; We wanted to be together, and we wanted to live in Israel on a kibbutz. Less than a year later, we were married and on a plane to Tel Aviv!
Looking back, I guess you could say that Beit Alpha is a pretty important piece of the Broudo puzzle.
We always make an effort to visit Beit Alpha each time we are in Israel. This time we decided to see if they had a guest house and spend a night there. We were able to book ahead, not knowing for sure what we would find. As we drove into the kibbutz a few days ago, and followed the signs to the Guest House, it eventually became clear that we were driving closer and closer to the exact buildings we lived in 37 years ago!
Could it possibly be that we would be sleeping in the same rooms?
It ended up we would be staying across the road from our original dormitory, but close enough for it to feel like once again time had stood still.
For me, at age 18, Beit Alpha was shangra la. I had never seen a place more beautiful. Perfectly manicured lawns, date palms and other exotic vegetation everywhere you looked — and to top it off, views of Mt Gilboa always in the background. For a prairie girl from Winnipeg, it was more than magical.
Although much has changed on Beit Alpha, The beauty of the place has remained intact.
We visited the large dining room that is still functioning (at least for lunch), were able to find a photo of the man who originally welcomed us to Beit Alpha (Shaoel Zinger) in a display of kibbutz members that had passed away. Our amazing kibbutz breakfast was served in a building that was originally the dining room for the elementary school. Quite a few people looked familiar to us, but we didn't manage to actually make contact with anyone we knew. Never the less, it felt good to be there and to remember our beginnings as a couple, and as young socialists.
Afula, the closest town to Beit Alpha, is famous for the best falafel in Israel. We took the opportunity to meet at Mifgash Golani with friends, Peter and Gila, Nomi and Bob, Sue and Joe and Verna to partake in the experience. I forgot to take pictures, but thanks to YouTube, you can see why they are so famous!
This area of Israel is important to us for so many reasons. We met here, learned how to speak Hebrew and I guess became kibbutznicks here. My Aunt Irene and Uncle Osher lived in this area for many years, and my Uncle Osher is laid to rest here. Aaron completed a year of high school and made life long friends here. So a visit to Beit Alpha and a visit to Uncle Osher's grave were a must.
Great memories of a great time in our lives.