It’s a beautiful Sunday and Lief goes for a walk with friends and I watch the last remnants of the British miniseries Manhunt. When I switch back to TV, I find myself in the middle of a report on the history of life on the kibbutz. I linger for a while and then switch via missed broadcast to the first part of this two-part report, entitled Apples and Oranges. You can already see from the colors and the typography that it takes place in the seventies of the last century.
It’s about the recruitment of volunteers for the kibbutz, especially in Sweden, England and the Netherlands and suddenly I see that little advertisement on the screen: Kibbutz tours, the best way to get to know Israel, part of which I filled out and sent in myself in April 1977 and kept the other part in my bible to this day. My Bible came to me from my parents when I made my confession on May 14, 1972, a week before my 19th birthday. The ad is dated five years later, meaning they’ve been together for 45 years now. Also in my bible a business card of Chinese restaurant Taiwan in Haifa, 59 Carmel Avenue, a note of 10 Israeli pounds, a sticker of Feyenoord from the series AH football pictures, the text of the blessing of bread and wine: Baruch atta adonai, eloheinui, melach ha ‘dam, boreh pri ha gaffen / ha motsri lechem miu ha’erets, and the notes of two sermons by Rev. De Jong from 1980 and 1983, on the back of a punched card from the Postcheque- en Girodienst: the harvest is great , there are few workers, man has been given the executive power.
This brings us back to the recruitment of volunteers, because fifty years ago the harvests were great and there were too few people to bring them in. With planes full the volunteers fly in from Western Europe and I am one of them, on my way to kibbutz Lahav in the south. It’s a time full of new adventures, new people in a totally different culture than what I’m used to at home and my world is opening with my fontanelle at a brisk pace of working, partying, dancing and hanging out by the pool. We learn folk dances and drive a tractor and in the ulpan we also add a few words Ivriet, so that more than three months later I can say a phoneticly written word of thanks hakarah on behalf of the Dutch volunteers in the language of the house: toda raba! I actually want to stay, but my room and my study in Leiden are calling: lavoh, come!
Ate I. Vegter, March 28, 2022